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TURLEY v. NORTH HUNTINGDON TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY (04/07/72)

decided: April 7, 1972.

TURLEY, ET AL.
v.
NORTH HUNTINGDON TOWNSHIP MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY, ET AL.



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County in case of Leo R. Turley, Roy S. White, Robert Ackerman, James N. Russell and Neal Middleton v. North Huntingdon Township Municipal Authority and Lloyd E. Myers, Landis E. Barefoot, James F. McKay, Charles Cook and Charles Kisner, members of the Authority, No. 164, October Term, 1969.

COUNSEL

James P. McKenna, Jr., with him Alvin P. Brannick, for appellants.

B. Patrick Costello, with him Costello, Snyder, Berk & Horner, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 117]

In Ronald V. Vener, et ux. v. The Municipal Sewer and Water Authority of Cranberry Township, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 123, 289 A.2d 506 (1972) (filed even date), the Authority was charged with an abuse of discretion in making a different charge to old customers and new customers. We held that it was within the proper exercise of the Authority's discretion, when properly supported by evidence. Here we have the Authority charged with an abuse of discretion when it failed to make a difference in the charge. Again, we must hold that an Authority has not abused its discretion, for there is competent evidence on which it made its decision.

Appellants, who represent 962 families, are customers of the North Huntingdon Township Municipal Authority (Authority), a municipal authority created by North Huntingdon Township pursuant to the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, as amended, 53 P.S. ยง 301, et seq., to provide, inter alia, sewage collection and treatment services to the residents of North Huntingdon Township. Prior to the creation of the Youghiogheny Sewage Project, appellants' sewage passed through private sewer lines in the Township into the Borough of White Oak and from there to the treatment plant of the City of McKeesport.

The Authority constructed its own sewage treatment facility as well as sewer lines to 1811 new customers

[ 5 Pa. Commw. Page 118]

    who heretofore had not been connected to a centralized sewage collection system. Appellants' sewer lines were connected to the new sewer lines and their sewage was treated by the Authority's treatment plant.

Appellants had paid a rate of $71 per year to the Authority prior to the completion of the Youghiogheny Sewage Project. Upon completion of the project, appellants, along with the 1811 new customers, were charged and paid a rate of $91 per year. It is this latter rate of $91 per year which appellants claim is unreasonable with respect to the old customers.

The basis of appellants' claim is that using a portion of their $91 per year rate to finance the construction of a collection system to new customers is a manifest abuse of discretion on the part of the Authority.

The Authority elected to raise the major portion of the cost of construction of the new sewer lines by assessing the properties benefited, improved, or accommodated at ten dollars per front foot, plus charging a tapping fee of $100. This procedure raised $1,810,000 by assessments plus an undetermined amount*fn1 from tapping charges. The total cost for 181,000 front feet of sewer lines was estimated to be $2,996,000. It appears uncontradicted that ...


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