John G. Brosky, Asst. County Sol., Nathaniel K. Beck, County Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellant.
William H. Markus, Robert C. Riethmuller, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Before Hirt, Acting P. J., and Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, Jj.
[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 642]
The Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View was created under the Act of June 28, 1935, P.L. 463, subsequently repealed and superseded by the Municipality Authorities Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, 53 P.S. § 2900z. On November 13, 1942 the Authority acquired all of the assets of Pittsburgh Suburban Water Service Company, a privately owned and operated utility, and since then has supplied water to fifteen municipalities, which include thirteen townships, a part of McKees Rocks, and the 28th ward of the City of Pittsburgh. On a tract of 1.76 acres of land in Bellevue Borough, purchased from the water company, there was a reservoir with a capacity of 1,800,000 gallons. The purpose of the reservoir was to create a reserve for fire protection and to insure continuity of water supply in the event of a breakdown in the pumping station located elsewhere in the Borough. Because of increasing demands for water and the extension of the areas served by the Authority, additional reserves were considered necessary to meet foreseeable future emergencies. Accordingly the Municipal Authority in 1950 purchased lots numbered 274
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and 275 in the Van Leer Subdivision of the Borough of Bellevue. These lots have a combined frontage of 60 feet on Woods Avenue; in the rear the lots adjoin the land above referred to, which had been acquired from the former water company. The two lots were purchased for use by the Authority in the development of its expansion program. And shortly thereafter an additional reservoir was erected with a capacity of 2,200,000 gallons. The standpipe reservoir at its base was 100 feet in diameter and was located for the most part on the 1.76 acre tract but it did encroach on the northwest corner of lot 274. No part of the actual structure extended on to lot 275 but the earth taken from the excavation was distributed around its base for lateral support and the fill extended across the rear of both lots.
There was a two-story frame dwelling house on lot 275 when the Authority acquired it. Since July 1951 the house has been occupied by a tenant who pays rent at the rate of $50 per month to the Authority, under a lease arrangement. The tenant does not perform any service for the Authority. Except as to the fill and a 12 foot passageway around the base of the reservoir, which encroach on the rear of the lots, these properties do not serve the Authority in the operation of its water system in any respect. The dwelling house is 52 feet from the reservoir at its nearest point. The Authority had no use for the building when it bought the land, nor does it now, and it intends to rent the house until such time as the expansion of its facilities requires the removal of the building from the land.
The dwelling house and parts of lots 274 and 275 as curtilage, to the west of the base of the reservoir, were assessed for county purposes for the inter-triennial years 1951 and 1952. The Authority's appeal from the assessment was sustained by the lower court on
[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 644]
the ground that the property is exempt from taxation under the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945. The Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review of Allegheny County have appealed from the order.
Within the limitations imposed by the Constitution of the Commonwealth in Article IX, §§ 1 and 2, P.S., 'the General Assembly may, by general laws, exempt from taxation public property used for public purposes, actual places of religious worship, places of burial not used or held for private or corporate profit, institutions of purely public charity, and real and personal property owned, occupied, and used by any branch, post, or camp of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, and marines.' (Emphasis added.) The Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View is not an agency of the Borough but is a separate municipal corporation 'performing essential governmental functions' in effectuating the purposes of its creation. 53 P.S. § ...