Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1961, No. 2360, in case of Charles R. Calabrese, Victor M. Muzzie, Edward R. Lazarke et al. v. Collier Township Municipal Authority and Collier Township.
John A. Robb, with him Louis D. Cooper, and Royston, Robb, Leonard, Edgecombe, Miller & Shorall, for appellants.
James A. Ashton, with him Robert King Stitt, III, and Ashton, Stitt & Valaw, for appellees.
Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Chief Justice Bell took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
On September 17, 1948, by ordinance, Collier Township (Township), Allegheny County, created the Collier Township Municipal Authority (Authority), for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, maintaining, operating and holding water works, water supply works and a water distribution system. The particular project for which the Authority was created was abandoned in 1951 and the Authority's activities remained dormant until 1958. On November 5, 1958, the Township reorganized the Authority for the purpose of handling sewer projects and, on January 6, 1959, the Township transferred whatever sewer facilities it owned, for the nominal consideration of $1.00, to the Authority.
The immediate purpose underlying the reorganization of the Authority was to enable it to handle a proposed "interceptor sewer" for a certain United States Army facility in the Robinson Run area of the township. It must be noted that, prior to reorganization of the Authority, the Township had constructed certain sewer feeder lines in the Colecrest area of the township to connect with its then existing sewage lines but, after the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan) had constructed a larger sewer trunk line, the sewage from the Colecrest area was thereafter handled by the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority at a rate of 30 cent per 1,000 metered gallons of water used. Moreover, prior to the time of reorganization of the Authority, the Township had maintained sewage
lines only in certain sections of the Kirwin Heights area of the township.
In December 1959, the Township caused certain engineering studies and an investigation to be made covering all the sewage facilities of the Township save those in the Colecrest area. At that time the Colecrest, Kirwin Heights and Woodville State Hospital areas of the township all were within the service area of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, but the remaining portions of the township were not.
On April 9, 1959, the Authority had no construction of any nature under way, there were no outstanding Authority bonds, and the Authority's sole indebtedness was in the amount of $15,000, which represented the cost of engineering services and the construction of the sewer feeder lines in the Colecrest area. On that date, the Authority, by an appropriate resolution, fixed a sewage rate at 80 cent per 1,000 metered gallons of water used up to 400,000 gallons, and a slightly reduced rate for water used in excess of 400,000 metered gallons. Several months after fixing such sewage rates, the Authority sent out bills to all users of sewage service in the township.
On November 23, 1960, five residents of the Colecrest area of the township,*fn1 who, allegedly, have not been nor will be benefited by the Authority's plans to place sewers in other areas of the township, instituted an action in equity against the Township and the Authority. Fourfold relief was sought: (1) an injunction restraining the Township and the Authority from collecting sewage fees in excess of the rates charged prior to April 9, 1959, i.e., in excess of 30 ...