The on again off again payment from Advocate Christ Hospital is on again after the Village Board of Trustees unanimously supported the agreement at the most recent village board meeting.
The agreement, negotiated by the village attorney, Peterson Johnson and Murray calls for four payments from the hospital to the village for a total of $2,600,000. The first payment of $600,000 for the 2017 year is due by June 8, 2018. The second payment for 2018, in the same amount is also due at that time. Two additional payments to be made by the end of June in 2019 and 2020, each in the amount of $700,000, are also part of the transaction.
Village officials had demanded what they had called a “fair share” payment by the tax exempt not for profit hospital. Under Illinois law, the village does not have any right to receive payments from the hospital and the contentious relationship between the village officials and the hospital appeared to terminate the discussions at various times.
However, one village official spoke to the Oak Lawn Leaf off the record and praised the village’s attorneys for their leadership in working with the various egos to craft compromise language. Village President Sandra Bury alluded to the language claiming at the meeting that she considers it a fair share agreement. The document, however, does not call the payment a fair share payment.
Instead, the agreement requires the village to deposit the money into a special fund and requires the village to provide an accounting to the hospital on the expenditures. The language used to describe the payment is “grant” rather than “fair share” and the official who spoke off the record said that the use of “fair share” was a “sticking point” with the hospital, which threatened to walk away from the deal.
Another compromise, crafted by the Kevin Casey, the lead attorney in the negotiations for the village, limits the funds to four purposes but the purposes were broad enough to provide the village the ability to use the funds in plugging a huge budget shortfall.
The four purposes that the agreement allows payment for are:
- The direct costs caused by the operations of Advocate that can be clearly documented by a transparent and verifiable methodology.
- Economic development efforts intended to spur the development of greater commercial development and the growth of a tax base for the village to fund the needs of the village.
- To identify and implement investments that increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of village services.
- To allow the village to contribute not more than 25% of any year’s annual grant to its reserve fund to offset future village deficits.
The village is not allowed to impose any new or additional taxes, fees or assessments on Advocate during the term of the agreement unless a utility tax is increased and applies to all customers.
Village Trustees praised the work of the “Oak Lawn team” with Trustees Terry Vorderer and Trustee William “Bud” Stalker speaking at the board meeting.
The agreement does not include any requirement for the hospital to build any structures within the village to spur economic development in some undeveloped areas. However, the village has long demanded a cash payment and while it may not be called a fair share payment, the board unanimously approved the idea of receiving the money in four installments.