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BOGDAN v. SCHOOL DISTRICT COAL TOWNSHIP (01/07/52)

January 7, 1952

BOGDAN
v.
SCHOOL DISTRICT OF COAL TOWNSHIP, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 269, Jan. T., 1951 from order of Court of Common Pleas of Northumberland County, May T., 1951, No. 420, in case of Anthony C. Bogdan v. School District of Coal Township et al. Order, as modified, affirmed.

COUNSEL

Carl Rice, with him Vincent Rovito and Witmer & Rice, for appellants.

Richard Henry Klein, for appellee.

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

Author: Stearne

[ 369 Pa. Page 148]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE

The pivotal question is: who is the legal tax collector of the school district of Coal Township of Northumberland County? The re-elected township treasurer is in default in his tax settlements for his previous term of office. Because of this fact the school district declined to deliver to him the certified duplicate tax statement for the current fiscal year 1950-51. See Public School Code of March 10, 1949 P.L. 30, art. VI, sec. 677, 24 PS, 6-677. This effectively prevents the re-elected township treasurer, as collector of school taxes, from performing his duties. The school board, by four to three vote, dismissed the elected township treasurer as collector of school taxes, and appointed another individual as school tax collector in his stead. The assigned reason for such dismissal was that "[plaintiff] did not settle his former duplicates according to law." The board having refused to supply the duly elected township treasurer, as school tax collector, with the essential current tax duplicates, he is powerless to perform his duty in collecting the school taxes. There exists in the school district great uncertainty as to which of the two collectors is lawfully entitled to act. The court below in an opinion by President Judge FORTNEY decided that the duly elected township treasurer,

[ 369 Pa. Page 149]

    acting as school tax collector, was the one who was legally entitled to collect such taxes and the school district and its officers, the defendants, were directed to deliver to him such tax duplicates. The appeal followed.

The proceeding was commenced by a complaint in the nature of mandamus, accompanied by a petition for a rule on defendants for a summary judgment : See Rule 1098 of the Pennsylvania Procedural Rules. Goodrich-Amram Civil Practice Vol. 1, p. 120; Anderson, Pennsylvania Civil Practice Vol. 3, p. 336. According to the comments in Goodrich-Amram, supra, the court without hearing in clear cases may issue a mandatory order to defendant in order to protect the public interest. Our examination of the record discloses that it is a matter of urgent public interest promptly to determine who is the legal school tax collector authorized to collect the school tax. Both individuals make this claim. Conflicting notices have been published in the newspapers and elsewhere, which necessarily causes considerable confusion in the school district. The chief inquiry, therefore, is whether this is such a clear case as entitles plaintiff to a summary judgment under the procedural rule.

Anthony C. Bogdan, the plaintiff, was re-elected treasurer of Coal Township, County of Northumberland, in November 1949 for the term of four years, which term began on the first Monday of January, 1950. Under the Act of June 24, 1931, P.L. 1206, as amended, 53 PS, 19092-805, the treasurer of the township is constituted the tax collector of the school district with powers and duties duly specified. The act specifically provides: "no local taxes shall be collected in any township, except by the treasurer of the township." (Italics supplied) The Act of May 25, 1945, P.L. 1050, sec. 31, 72 PS § 5511.31, provides: "Unless settlement of a duplicate is made by a tax collector of

[ 369 Pa. Page 150]

    a borough, town or township of the second class, or by any tax collector of school taxes in the manner provided by this act, he shall not be entitled to the duplicate or duplicates of any taxing district with which settlement has not been so made for any succeeding year during his term, and ...


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