Appeals, Nos. 4 and 5, Jan. T., 1951, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, Sept. T., 1949, Nos. 165 and 166, in re Petitions of Tax Claim Bureau for approval of private sale, etc. Decree affirmed.
Charles L. Frank, with him Henry Houck, for appellants.
Calvin J. Friedberg, with him James J. Gallagher, Roy P. Hicks and Hicks, Williamson & Friedberg, for Tax Claim Bureau, appellee.
Earl G. Harrison, with him Wm. A. Schnader, Ralph M. Bashore, Edgar Downey, Bashore & Bashore and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, for Hickory Contracting Company et al., appellees.
Robert L. Kunzig, Deputy Attorney General, with him Charles J. Margiotti, Attorney General, for Commonwealth.
Before Drew, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell and Ladner, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES
The Tax Claim Bureau of Schuylkill County, by petitions filed in separate proceedings, sought approval of the court below of two proposed private sales of lands formerly owned by the Western Anthracite Coal Company. The Commissioners of the County had acquired the properties described in the petitions in 1942 and 1944 at County Treasurer's sales for unpaid taxes wherein ten different taxing bodies had participating interests, viz., the County of Schuylkill, Schuylkill County Institution District, and the Township and School District, respectively, of each of the four following Townships of the County: Tremont, Frailey, Hegins and Porter. The petitions were filed under the provisions of Section 702(h) of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, 72 PS § 5860.-702.*fn1 That Act became effective by its terms (see Sec. 803) on January 1, 1948, and is applicable to Schuylkill County, the Commissioners of the County not having adopted a resolution during the month of January 1948 electing not to accept the provisions of the Act: see Sec. 102. The lands covered by the one petition were located in Tremont Township while in the other petition they were located in Frailey, Hegins and Porter Townships and in each instance consisted of both seated and unseated lands. Hearings were had before the court below on both petitions, together, with notice to the various interested taxing districts except that, through error in the tax records, notice was not
originally given Frailey Township School District. However, counsel for that district apeared generally in the proceedings and participated throughout in behalf of the district. Accordingly, the learned hearing judge held Frailey Township School District to be party to the proceedings; and, as one of the present appellants, the Frailey district makes no complaint of the court's jurisdiction on the score of lack of notice to it. Following the hearings which were continued from time to time over a period of five months, the court below filed an opinion and order approving the sales and directing that they be consummated. Pursuant thereto, the sales were effectuated, and the purchase prices were paid and, thereafter, distributed to the taxing districts according to their proportional interests therein. Subsequently, Tremont Township School District and Frailey Township School District brought these separate appeals which have been reargued with notice to the Attorney General of the Commonwealth who disclaimed any occasion for participation by the Commonwealth.
The principal question raised by the appellants is whether a Tax Claim Bureau, under the Real Estate Tax Sale Law of 1947, may sell at private sale, without a prior offer at public sale at an upset price, real estate acquired by the County Commissioners at a tax sale prior to January 1, 1948, and duly turned over to the Tax Claim Bureau, i.e., prior to January 1, 1949: see Sec. 701. The appellants raise two subordinate questions, preliminarily, (1) as to whether the County Commissioners acquired the lands in question prior to January 1, 1948, and (2) if so, whether the properties were transferred to the Tax Claim Bureau by proper action of the County Commissioners. If all of ...