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CHRISTIAN v. JOHNSTOWN POLICE PENSION FUND ASSOCIATION (04/19/66)

decided: April 19, 1966.

CHRISTIAN
v.
JOHNSTOWN POLICE PENSION FUND ASSOCIATION, APPELLANT



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, March T., 1961, No. 8, in case of Samuel F. Christian, Curtis Rager, Charles F. Bowser et al. v. The Johnstown Police Pension Fund Association and City of Johnstown.

COUNSEL

Edward G. Kuyat, Jr., with him Franke, Ayres, Hager & Kuyat, for appellant.

G. Harry Isaacson, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Cohen. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Jones joins in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Cohen

[ 421 Pa. Page 241]

Six retired police officers of the City of Johnstown, including appellee, instituted an action in equity against the Johnstown Police Pension Fund Association (appellant) seeking, in addition to their retirement pay based on one-half of their earnings at retirement, certain service increments in accordance with the Third Class City Police Pension Fund Law, Act of June 23, 1931, P. L. 932, § 4303, as amended January 18, 1952, P. L. (1951) 2105, § 1, 53 P.S. § 39303. Appellant named the City of Johnstown as additional defendant. The chancellor ordered that appellant and additional defendant pay to each plaintiff the amounts owing on service increments. The chancellor further ordered

[ 421 Pa. Page 242]

    that appellee be paid an additional sum representing back pension pay, which payment is separate and apart from any increment benefits. Following approval by the court en banc, appellant appealed only from the order in favor of appellee.

Appellee became a member of the Johnstown Police Force on May 18, 1927, and although below fifty years of age, became eligible for retirement on May 18, 1947, under the law then in force. He retired on January 7, 1952, earning $315 per month. On January 1, 1956 he was rehired by the police department, where he remained until his second retirement on March 15, 1959, at which time he was earning $391 per month. During the period of his first retirement (1952 through 1955), appellee received retirement pay of $157.50 per month.

During the 1951 session, the General Assembly approved an amendment to the Third Class City Police Pension Fund Law, providing in relevant part for an increment in pay for each police officer pensioned after having served the minimum number of years required for retirement allowance eligibility. The increment amounts to one-fortieth of the retirement allowance for each year the contributor has served beyond the minimum for retirement. The bill provided that it should become effective January 1, 1952. On January 18, 1952 the act was signed by the Governor of the Commonwealth.

Appellant contends that the amendment did not become effective until January 18, 1952 and that appellee, having retired prior to that date, is ineligible to receive benefits thereunder. Appellant is partially correct. The Statutory Construction Act, Act of May 28, 1937, P. L. 1019, § 4, as amended, 46 P.S. § 504 sets forth the effective dates of acts of the legislature. Appellant argues that the amendatory act affects the budget of the City of Johnstown and, accordingly, the

[ 421 Pa. Page 243]

    third paragraph of § 4,*fn1 relating to laws affecting the budget of political subdivisions, should be referred to in order to determine the effective date of the amendatory act. Under the terms of that portion of § 4, as it read when the amendatory act was enacted,*fn2 the effective date of the legislation in question would be January 18, 1952. We do not agree that there is here involved any budgetory legislation within the meaning of § 4. Rather, it is our opinion ...


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