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PHILADELPHIA COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY v. PHILADELPHIA (06/27/55)

June 27, 1955

PHILADELPHIA COCA-COLA BOTTLING COMPANY
v.
PHILADELPHIA, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 305, Jan. T., 1954, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1953, No. 5847, in case of The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Booth Bottling Company, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, George S. Forde, Revenue Commissioner, Walter Pytko, Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Jerome J. Shestack, First Deputy City Solicitor, with him Jacob j. Siegal, Assistant City Solicitor, Abraham Wernick, Deputy City Solicitor and Abraham L. Freedman, City Solicitor, for appellants.

Frank Rogers Donahue, with Robert D. Abrahams, Donahue, Battle & Donahue and Abrahams & Lowenstein, for appellees.

Joseph W. Henderson, with him Bayard M. Graf, George M. Brodhead and Rawle & Henderson, for Metropolitan Bottling Co., Inc., intervenor.

George P. Orr, with him George P. Williams, III and Orr, Williams & Baxter, for The Charles E. Hires Company, intervenor.

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

Author: Arnold

[ 382 Pa. Page 301]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ARNOLD

This is an appeal from a decree enjoining the city of Philadelphia from imposing a mercantile license tax upon the portion of the business of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company which is subject to tax under the provisions of the Carbonated Beverages Act of 1925, P.L. 730, as amended, 31 PS ยง 761 et seq. The Booth Bottling Company, Metropolitan Bottling Co., Inc., and Charles E. Hires Company were granted leave to intervene.

Plaintiffs and intervenors are bottlers of soft drinks with plants located in the city of Philadelphia. They claim exemption from the Philadelphia mercantile tax by reason of the Sterling Act of 1932, Special Sessions, P.L. 45, 53 PS 4613, on the ground that under the Carbonated Beverages Act each is required to pay the state a fee of $50.00 imposed by that Act. That is, since the fee so imposed is a true license fee, they cannot be required to pay the city's mercantile license fee.

[ 382 Pa. Page 302]

The Carbonated Beverages Act is a comprehensive statute, providing regulation and supervision of the soft drink industry. The enforcement of the Act is lodged with the Department of Agriculture, and provides that the secretary shall appoint special agents to enforce the provisions of the Act, as well as such additional agents as may be necessary to maintain supervision over the industry. Section 19 of the Act provides for payment of license and registration fees to the Secretary of Agriculture, who in turn is to pay these moneys into the State Treasury. It further provides that "such moneys shall constitute a special fund and are hereby permanently appropriated to the Department of Agriculture for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this act."*fn1 (Italics supplied).

The evidence showed that in 1931 the expense of supervision and enforcement of the Act was approximately $20,000, and that the receipts amounted to about $42,000.*fn2 Less than one-half of the moneys received was used for the salaries and activities of the beverage agents.*fn3 The receipts for 1952-53 were $55,100, a sum sufficient to provide for extensive regulation. There ...


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