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PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY PETITION (11/20/50)

November 20, 1950

PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY PETITION


Appeal, No. 32, March T., 1951, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1950, No. 3261, in re Petition of Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Charles F. C. Arensberg, with him Ella Graubart and Patterson, Crawford, Arensberg & Dunn, for appellant.

James J. Lawler, with him Prichard, Lawler, Malone & Geltz, for appellee.

Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.

Author: Stearne

[ 366 Pa. Page 11]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

This is a petition by the Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh for a declaratory judgment seeking a judicial determination that the Act of 1913, May 1, P.L.

[ 366 Pa. Page 12155]

, sec. 1, 53 PS 1501, which requires separate bids be taken for plumbing, heating, ventilating and electrical work, is inapplicable to petitioner. The National Electrical Contractors Association, Western Pennsylvania Chapter, Inc., filed an answer. The parties entered into a stipulation of facts. The court below entered a decree for respondent, ruling that the Act applies to petitioner, the Public Parking Authority. Petitioner appealed.

Petitioner contends: (a) Petitioner is an agency of the Commonwealth and the Act of 1913 does not apply to the Commonwealth or its agencies; (b) Even if the Act of 1913 were applicable to an agency of the Commonwealth, it does not apply to the appellant because the Act of 1913 is inconsistent with the Parking Authority Law and is repealed by it; (c) In any event the garages which the appellant proposes to build are not public buildings within the meaning of the Act of 1913 so long as the bonds of the appellant are outstanding.

The Act of 1913 P.L. 155 provides as follows: "Section 1. Be it enacted, &c., That hereafter in the preparation of specifications for the erection, construction, and alteration of any public building, when the entire cost of such work shall exceed one thousand dollars, it shall be the duty of the architect, engineer, or other person preparing such specifications, to prepare separate specifications for the plumbing, heating, ventilating, and electrical work; and it shall be the duty of the person or persons authorized to enter into contracts for the erection, construction, or alteration of such public buildings to receive separate bids upon each of the said branches of work, and to award the contract for the same to the lowest responsible bidder for each of said branches. "Section 2. All acts or parts of acts inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed."

[ 366 Pa. Page 13]

The Parking Authority Law of June 5, 1947 P.L. 458, sec. 5, 53 PS 10275, as amended, states that Parking Authorities hereafter created are agencies of the Commonwealth and are not to be deemed instrumentalities of the city or engaged in the performance of a municipal function. Appellant contends that it is a general rule of law that a statute enacted by the Legislature is not applicable to the Commonwealth. Hence, it argues that, since agencies of the sovereign are in reality the sovereign itself, the Act of 1913 does not apply to petitioner: Jones v. Tatham, 20 Pa. 398; Culver v. Commonwealth, 348 Pa. 472, 35 A.2d 64. But this rule applies only when dealing with possible derogation of the rights, prerogatives or property of the Commonwealth. It is true that this rule applies where there is a conflict between the sovereign power of the Commonwealth and the private rights of individuals, or whether the sovereign intended to make itself liable for torts of its servants, or whether the sovereign intended to pay interest on its obligations. But the present case does not fall within any of those situations. In this case the Commonwealth's rights, prerogatives or property are not in question. It is obvious that the Legislature by the Act of 1913 was setting forth a declaration of public policy. To require separate bids on the various items hereinbefore set forth was in compliance with such declared public policy. In Tragesser v. Cooper et al., 313 Pa. 10, 169 A. 376, this Court stated that the Act is an expression by the Legislature of public policy. We said in that case ...


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