School, park districts & hospital reach settlement

By Erica Quednau |

Published 10/14 2013 12:53PM

Updated 10/17 2013 10:32AM

Latest: 5:01 pm, 10/16/13, Wednesday
URBANA -- A ten-year lawsuit is finally coming to an end. All parties seem to be happy with the result.

Representatives from Carle Foundation and the Urbana School District are discussing a settlement reached with the park district. Carle sued to get property taxes returned which it paid over the past seven years.

Both sides agreed to settle because they didn't want to spend any more time or money on the conversation. Carle reps say legal fees were adding up to millions of dollars. So, the settlement is kind of a win-win for all three parties involved.

Of the $20.8 million Carle paid in property taxes, it will get back about half of that. The school and park districts get to split the rest. It's money neither side really planned for, so now it's just an added bonus in their budgets.

The president of the park district released this statement:

        Our board chose the certainty of a settlement over the
        continuing drain of a lawsuit in both time and money so
        that we can focus on providing quality parks and recreation
        for Urbana.

The settlement isn't final until a judge puts a stamp of approval on it. No word how long that could take, but all parties hope it's sooner rather than later.
Latest: 10:01 pm, 10/15/13, Tuesday
URBANA -- Carle Foundation along with the school and park districts agreed on a settlement Tuesday night. Carle was suing both parties to get back property taxes it paid over a seven year span.

Both the park district and school board voted in favor of reaching a settlement. They won't have to pay all of it back; just a little more than half.

Both districts collected a combined $12,839,000 in property tax revenue from Carle Foundation between 2004 - 2011. The school district collected the majority of it: $10,893,000. It will pay back $5,737,500.

The park district collected $1,946,000. It will pay back $1,012,500.

Mayor Laurel Prussing says she's against Carle's tax exemption for charity work. A judge ruled in favor of the law allowing that exemption last year. She was disappointed both sides reached a settlement.

"They've (the park district and school district) never really publicly discussed what the long-term effect on the city, all the taxpayers in the city, plus the park district and the school district themselves,” she said. “They're going to be hurt by this. If the city is hurt, the taxing districts are hurt."

The park and school districts will pay their sums through installments over the next six years, or earlier if they prefer. Both parties can use the leftover revenue however it wants.

John Dimit, Urbana School Board president released this statement:

        The school district is pleased to put this lawsuit behind us so
        that we can focus our human and fiscal resources on our world
        class schools, our students and our families.
Update: 4:10 pm, 10/14/13, Monday
URBANA -- The city's school and park districts will vote on an agreement with the Carle Hospital Foundation Tuesday. The hospital became exempt from paying property taxes last year.

The school district has about $11 million in escrow of disputed Carle property tax money from previous years. The park district has been holding about $2 million.

Tuesday, Mayor Laurel Prussing will appear on WCIA-3 News at 5 to discuss the huge impact the tax issue is having on the city.
Original: 10:06 pm, 10/12/13, Saturday
URBANA -- The Urbana School District could reach a settlement with Carle Hospital this week. It recently lost funding when Carle was ruled "tax-exempt." The district has been holding more than $10 million in escrow.

District leaders plan to meet with Carle reps Tuesday for a possible settlement. It will be a closed session. Neither party would comment.

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