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BECKER v. SCHUYLKILL HAVEN BOROUGH. (05/08/59)

May 8, 1959

BECKER, APPELLANT,
v.
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN BOROUGH.



Appeal, No. 83, Jan. T., 1959, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, Nov. T., 1957, No. 7, in case of Edwin Becker v. Borough of Schuylkill Haven et al. Decree reversed.

COUNSEL

Ralph M. Bashore, with him W. J. Krencewicz, for appellant.

H. G. Stutzman, with him Stutzman, Lewis and Sidoriak, for appellees.

Before Jones, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen and Mcbride, JJ.

Author: Cohen

[ 395 Pa. Page 573]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE COHEN

Edwin Becker filed a complaint in equity alleging that without cause the defendant-borough discontinued supplying water to his premises. He sought a mandatory injunction for restoration of the water connection. Certain agreements and stipulations as to fact were entered into so that the water service was restored pending the final disposition of the case. The court below, with which the court en banc agreed, dismissed the complaint in equity and entered judgment in favor of the defendants.

The defendant borough, while admitting that the water service had originally been disconnected, argues that the appellant failed to pay sewer charges, and under the authority of the Act of April 14, 1949, P.L. 482, as amended by the Act of September 7, 1955, P.L. 576, 53 P.S. ยง 2261*fn1 and Ordinance 394*fn2 of the Borough

[ 395 Pa. Page 574]

    of Schuylkill Haven, the borough was authorized to discontinue the water service upon due notice.

While the borough owns and operates the water distribution system, the borough operates but does not own the sewer system. The sewer system and sewage treatment plant is owned by the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Schuylkill Haven. It issued revenue bonds to provide for the sewer's acquisition and construction, then leased the facility to the borough.

Appellant maintains that the borough has no power under the Act of 1955 to shut off the water since the act only envisions situations where an owner of property has failed to pay a sewer bill to a municipal authority and then the right to shut off or discontinue the water accrues when the municipal authority has assigned its claim for sewer service to the borough.

The public policy enunciated by the legislature in the preamble of the act reveals that in order to enable municipal authorities to acquire, construct and operate sewage disposal and sewage treatment works, revenues must be assured to the authority. Thus, prompt payment of rentals for charges can only be assured by exercising a right of shutting off the water for the nonpayment of the sewage rental. Since many water utilities are operated by municipalities, the act, in order to make the collection of the sewer rentals more secure for authorities, authorized the water utility, at the request and direction of the ...


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