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KOEHNLEIN v. ALLEGHENY COUNTY EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM (05/25/53)

May 25, 1953

KOEHNLEIN
v.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 77, March T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1952, No. 869, in case of Joseph Koehnlein v. Retirement System for the Employees of Allegheny County. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

John P. Hester, for appellant.

Arthur L. McLaughlin, Jr., for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 373 Pa. Page 536]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This appeal grows out of a declaratory judgment proceeding instituted by the plaintiff against the County of Allegheny represented by its retirement board. The question of law involved requires a determination of the constitutionality of an amendment of the county's retirement system intended to increase the retirement allowance payable to a county employee after he has been retired. The court below, holding the amendment to be constitutional, ordered the defendant to pay the plaintiff the increased amount of the retirement allotment from the effective date of the amendment. From that order the county has appealed.

By Section 312 of The General County Law of May 2, 1929, P.L. 1278, as amended by the Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 840 (16 PS ยง 312), each county of the second class (i.e., Allegheny County) was required to provide a retirement system and to establish and regulate a retirement fund in connection therewith. Section 313 provided that the retirement system should be under the sole direction of the retirement board which is composed of certain specified county officers.

[ 373 Pa. Page 537]

The Act further provides how the retirement system shall be administered.

The plaintiff was an employee of the county from March 25, 1906, to March 16, 1936. Upon the termination of his employment, he applied to the retirement board for an allowance under the county's retirement system to which he had contributed as required by Section 318 of the Act of 1929, supra. The board granted the allowance effective May 16, 1936, in a monthly sum of $62.50 as determined according to the formula prescribed by Section 322 of the Act. The plaintiff has since received such allowance. By Act of January 14, 1952, P.L. 1884, Section 322 of the Act was amended to provide that "No retirement allowance hereafter paid to any beneficiary who has heretofore retired or who shall hereafter retire shall be less than seventy-five dollars ($75.00) per month...." Upon enactment of the foregoing amendment, the plaintiff demanded of the retirement board that his monthly retirement allowance be increased to the $75 minimum specified by the Act as amended. The board refused to grant the increase, contending that the amendment violates Article III, Sections 11 and 18, and Article I, Section 17, of the Constitution of Pennsylvania. The appellant presses the same contentions on this appeal.

The constitutionality of the retirement system in counties of the second class provided for by Sections 311 to 326 inc. of The General County Law of 1929, as amended, was sustained by this court in Retirement Board of Allegheny County v. McGovern et al., 316 Pa. 161, 174 A. 400. In answering the contention there made that the particular statutory provisions violated Article III, Section 11, of the State Constitution, which provides that "No bill shall be ...


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