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WEST VIEW BOROUGH MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY APPEAL. (04/18/55)

April 18, 1955

WEST VIEW BOROUGH MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY APPEAL.


Appeals, Nos. 142 and 141, March T., 1954, from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1951, No. 3467, and April T., 1953, No. 1817, in appeal of The Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View from Assessment of the Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

William H. Markus, with him R. C. Riethmuller, for appellant.

Philip Baskin, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Nathaniel K. Beck, County Solicitor and John G. Brosky, Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Stern

[ 381 Pa. Page 417]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The question concerns the extent of the exemption from taxation of its real estate to which the appellant Municipal Authority is entitled.

The Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View in Allegheny County was incorporated under the

[ 381 Pa. Page 418]

    former Municipal Authorities Act of June 28, 1935, P.L. 463, and now operates under its successor Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382. It was organized under an Ordinance of the Borough of West View of October 6, 1942. It acquired the property and assets of the Pittsburgh Suburban Water Service Company and is now serving water to about 90,000 customers in 15 municipalities. On August 5, 1949, the Borough passed an Ordinance providing, as an additional project of the Authority, for the acquisition, improvement, operation and leasing, either as lessor or lessee, of a building on certain specified lots in the Borough, "to be devoted wholly, or partially, for public use and for revenue producing purposes." Such a building was accordingly constructed, consisting in part of one story and in part of two stories. 6,090 square feet of its area on the first floor is used by the Authority for its water project; 1,500 square feet are leased to a commercial tenant (Stag Shop); 6,120 square feet are leased to another commercial tenant (Star Market); 3,600 square feet are leased to the Borough and sublet by it, - 2,100 square feet to a commercial tenant (Gary Auto Stores), and 1,500 square feet to Peoples First National Bank and Trust Company. The entire second floor, consisting of 6,230 square feet, is leased to the Borough, which rents it out occasionally for private dances, receptions and the like, also to various fraternal and other organizations, and sometimes to groups such as the Firemen, the Police, and the Chamber of Commerce, - these last rent free. The Borough itself does not use any part of the floor nor has it any office in the building.

The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review placed an assessment valuation on the entire property of $147,000. The Authority took two appeals to the Court of Common Pleas, one involving the triennial assessment for the years 1950, 1951 and 1952, and the

[ 381 Pa. Page 419]

    other the triennial assessment for the years 1953, 1954 and 1955. It did not question the amount of the valuation but it claimed that the property should have been exempted from taxation. The court held that the part of the land and building actually used by the Authority, as well as the part used by the Borough for offstreet parking, were exempt, but that all parts not so used, but rented to others, were taxable. Accordingly it granted exemption for one-quarter of the valuation placed on the buildings and three-quarters of the valuation placed on the land, thereby reducing the amount of the assessment to $99,000 for each of the triennial years in question except the year 1950 the assessment for which was completely cancelled because at that time no building had been erected on the land. The Authority has taken the present appeals from the court's orders and raises the question whether the ...


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