Appeals from Decrees of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Nos. 1941 of 1967, 1950 of 1968 and 2040 of 1968, consolidated in Equity, in cases of Robert W. Keller, Doris Keller, et al. v. School District of the Oxford Area, Norman M. Wilson, Velma Rhodes, Margaret L. Eshelman and Russell Jacoby; Sherwood Jones, James H. Crothers and Ralph Wiker v. Oxford Area School District and Russell Jacoby; and Howard Mahan, B. Frank Millinger, Carol Abernathy, Jr., Oscar F. Long, Catherine Cohen, Sydney Cohen, Thompson Hudson, Louise Hudson, Amonda B. Jones, Clifford E. Jones, et al. v. S. Anna Stoner, Velma Rhodes, Jane P. Cannoy, Lenore D. Binkley, Margaret L. Eshelman, Norman M. Wilson and Oxford Area School District.
Arthur A. Moorshead, with him Moorshead & Niccolo, for appellants.
C. Richard Morton, with him Griffith, Morton & Buckley, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Rogers. Opinion by Judge Mencer. Judge Manderino concurs in decision only.
These three appeals, consolidated by the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, arise from three complaints in equity seeking to enjoin a third class school district (School District) and its tax collectors from collecting occupation taxes for the school years 1966-67, 1967-68, and 1968-69 and to have the taxes declared invalid
and unconstitutional. The chancellor, by an adjudication dated June 30, 1970, entered a decree nisi dismissing the complaints, exceptions to this decree were dismissed by the court en banc and a final decree was entered on January 13, 1971. These appeals followed.
On June 22, 1966, the School District adopted an Occupation Tax Resolution for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1966 (for the 1966-67 school year), and, subsequently, on December 27, 1967, a complaint in case No. 1941-1967 was filed and service on the School District was made on January 5, 1968. Again, on June 20, 1967, the School District adopted an Occupation Tax Resolution for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1967 (for the 1967-68 school year), and, on February 2, 1968, a complaint in case No. 1950-1968 was filed, but no service was made on the School District until September 3, 1969. Finally, on June 18, 1968, the School District adopted an Occupation Tax Resolution for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 1968 (for the 1968-69 school year), and, on November 27, 1968, a complaint in case No. 2040-1968 was filed.
The School District admits the invalidity of the tax resolutions in cases Nos. 1941 and 1950 for the sole reason that the assessments of occupations taxed were not made by the Chief County Assessor as required by Lynch v. Owen J. Roberts School District, 430 Pa. 461, 244 A.2d 1 (1968). However, it argues that in both of those cases, as well as in No. 2040, appellants have been guilty of laches and are therefore barred from maintaining their actions. It further contends that injunctions against collection of these taxes would place the School District in a fiscal crisis.
The Adjudication and the Final Decree in these cases were grounded on the doctrine of laches and on the case of Wilson v. Philadelphia School District, 328 Pa. 225,
[ 3 Pa. Commw. Page 105195]
A. 90 (1937). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the lower court and adopt much of President Judge Gawthrop's language in the Adjudication. We note that he not only was the Chancellor for these cases but that he also wrote the opinion in support of the ...