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SWATARA TOWNSHIP v. AUTOMATIC BOWLING CENTRE (11/09/65)

decided: November 9, 1965.

SWATARA TOWNSHIP
v.
AUTOMATIC BOWLING CENTRE, INC., APPELLANT. SWATARA TOWNSHIP V. RED CROWN BOWLING CENTER, INC., APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Sept. T., 1962, Nos. 1728 and 1729, in cases of Board of Commissioners of Swatara Township v. Automatic Bowling Centre, Inc.; and Same v. Red Crown Bowling Center, Inc.

COUNSEL

David Goldberg, with him Walter H. Compton, Paul E. Clouser, and Verlin and Goldberg, and Schaeffer, Purcell & Clouser, for appellants.

James W. Reynolds, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 419 Pa. Page 483]

Appellee, Swatara Township, instituted suit against appellants, Automatic Bowling Centre, Inc. and Red Crown Bowling Center, Inc.,*fn1 both owners and operators of bowling establishments within the township, to

[ 419 Pa. Page 484]

    recover sums allegedly due under the township's amusement tax ordinances for the period 1960-1963.*fn2 Appellants denied liability, attacked the validity of the ordinances, and filed counterclaims for payments previously made. Judgment for the township and against appellants was entered in both cases and this appeal followed.

The ordinances under which the taxes were sought to be imposed were adopted by the township pursuant to authority granted by the Act of June 25, 1947, P. L. 1145, as amended, 53 P.S. ยง 6851 (hereinafter referred to as the enabling act)*fn3 and provide: "A tax is hereby imposed, for general township purposes, at the rate of one cent (1 cent) for every twenty cents (20 cents) or fraction thereof, of admission to any amusement within the Township of Swatara."*fn4 The term "admissions" is defined

[ 419 Pa. Page 485]

    in the ordinances as a "monetary charge of any character whatever . . . charged or paid for the privilege of attending or engaging in or for the use of any of the equipment used in connection with amusements . . . ."*fn5 "Amusements" is defined to encompass "all manner and form of entertainment including . . . bowling alley[s] . . . ."*fn6

Appellants' initial objections to the validity of the ordinances are based upon certain alleged irregularities in the manner by which they were adopted by the township commissioners and upon their asserted failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the enabling act. The court below found each of numerous objections to be without merit. Our review satisfies us that the findings and conclusions therein reached are fully supported by the record and are correct.

We therefore turn to a consideration of the principal issues raised by this appeal. Appellants contend that the tax imposed by Swatara Township is contrary to the provisions of the enabling act and is therefore invalid. In support of this argument, they rely on that section of the enabling act which withholds from local authorities the power to tax the privilege of employing tangible property subject to state taxation.*fn7 Since their facilities are subject to a state tax,*fn8 appellants argue that the tax ...


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