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PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY v. BOARD PROPERTY ASSESSMENT (05/24/54)

May 24, 1954

PITTSBURGH PUBLIC PARKING AUTHORITY, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW, APPELLANT



Appeals, Nos. 101, 107 and 126, March T., 1954, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1953, No. 3093, in case of Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh v. Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Philip Baskin, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Nathaniel K. Beck, County Solicitor, and John W. Manula, Assistant County Solicitor, for Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County and County of Allegheny.

Mortimer B. Lesher, School Solicitor, and Oscar G. Peterson, Assistant School Solicitor, for Pittsburgh School Board.

J. Frank McKenna, City Solicitor, with him David Stahl and Charles D. McCarthy, Assistant City Solicitors, for City of Pittsburgh.

Richard B. Tucker, Jr., with him Charles F. C. Arensberg, and Patterson, Crawford, Arensberg & Dunn, for Pittsburgh Public Parking Authority.

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

Author: Stern

[ 377 Pa. Page 276]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The subject of inquiry here involved is the validity of a claim of tax exemption of certain garages and parking lots owned by the Public Parking Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, but leased to and operated by private parties. A further question is whether portions of one such garage leased for commercial uses are tax exempt.

The Public Parking Authority of Pittsburgh, incorporated under the Parking Authority Law of June 5, 1947, P.L. 458, made a study of traffic congestion in the City of Pittsburgh as the result of which it decided upon the erection of four parking garages. Having acquired title to the necessary tracts of land for that purpose it erected on one such tract, referred to as site F, a concrete seven-level open deck parking garage, embodied in which structure at the street level are five rooms for stores. On another such tract, referred to as site B, it erected a concrete six-level, open deck parking garage. Because of a shortage in the allocation of steel it has been unable to erect garages on the other two tracts, one referred to as site C and the other as site Y, and those two tracts are now open parking lots. In order to finance the erection of the two garages bonds in the total amount of six million dollars were issued and sold by the Authority.

[ 377 Pa. Page 277]

The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County refused an application of the Authority for exemption of its four properties from taxation. Thereupon the Authority filed a bill in equity against the Board, the County of Allegheny, the City of Pittsburgh and the School District of Pittsburgh, praying that the Board be restrained from assessing, and the County of Allegheny from levying, taxes upon these properties, and for a decree declaring that they are not subject to taxation by any of the defendants. The court below decreed that all of the properties were exempt except the portion of the garage on site F consisting of the rooms for stores; it dismissed the bill as to site F on the ground of lack of jurisdiction in equity because of that property being taxable in part. The Board, the County of Allegheny, and the School District of Pittsburgh, appeal from the decree exempting the three properties from taxation, while the Authority appeals from the court's refusal to exempt the stores portion of the garage on site F.

It neither is nor can be disputed that Authorities incorporated under the Parking Authority Law are, ordinarily at least, exempt from the payment of any taxes or assessments upon their properties. The Constitution, Article IX, Section 1, authorizes the General Assembly to exempt from taxation public property used for public purposes, and in McSorley v. Fitzgerald, 359 Pa. 264, 59 A.2d 142, we held that the purpose for which such authorities are created constitutes a public use. The General County Assessment Law (Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, Section 204(g)), exempts from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor and school tax all public ...


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