Appeal, No. 197, Jan. T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, Feb. T., 1953, in Equity, No 2, in case of Millard Narehood, et al., Taxpayers of Clearfield County, v. A. W. Pearson, et al., County Commissioners of Clearfield County, etc. Judgment reversed.
Robert V. Maine, with him Frank G. Smith, Frank A. Whitsett and Joseph J. Lee, for appellants.
Carl A. Belin, for appellees.
Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BELL
Many taxpayers were naturally surprised and incensed because the total assessments of real property in Clearfield County for 1953 were increased 400% over 1952.
Narehood and a large number of other taxpayers of Clearfield County filed a bill in equity to enjoin the county commissioners and the county board of assessment and revision of taxes "from proceeding on the assessments" which they averred were illegally and unconstitutionally made, or "levying any millage or collecting any taxes thereon." The amended bill of complaint alleged that the values of properties fixed in the 1953 county assessment were not uniform or equal but were arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional. The lower Court overruled and dismissed defendants' preliminary objections; the county commissioners then took this appeal.
The mere averment that an assessment is arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal and unconstitutional, without adequate supporting facts is insufficient. Preliminary objections admit as true all facts which are averred in the bill of complaint but not the pleader's conclusions or averments of law: Carlin v. Pa. Power & Light Co., 363 Pa. 543, 70 A.2d 349; Price v. Robbins, 298 Pa. 568, 148 A. 849; Pfeil's Estate, 287 Pa. 21, 134 A. 385.
Plaintiffs averred that the assessments were illegal because the Board (for the assessment and revision of taxes) did not establish a Permanent Records System as required by § 306 of the amendatory Act of January 18, 1952, P.L. 2094. Since this Act required the new Permanent Records System to be established within five years from January 18, 1952, this averment or contention of plaintiffs was utterly devoid of merit.
Plaintiffs also alleged that the assessors did not comply with § 506 of the Act of January 18, 1952, P.L. 2138, which amended the Act of May 21, 1943, known as The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, in that they did not gather and report to the chief assessor all data and information necessary to assess, rate and value all subjects or objects of local taxation, namely, 45,000 parcels of real estate; and that the chief assessor failed to take into consideration the value of such property as indicated by the use of cost charts and land values applied on the basis of zones and districts as well as the general adherence to the established predetermined ratio. It is obvious that the assessors could not, in a few months, gather all the required data and information with ...