Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in case of City of Philadelphia v. Resident Advisory Board of Philadelphia, Inc., No. 4333 1/2 February Term, 1972.
Robert M. Landis, with him Dechert, Price & Rhoads, for appellant.
Sheldon L. Albert, Chief Deputy City Solicitor, with him Paul L. Rucci, Assistant City Solicitor, and Martin Weinberg, City Solicitor, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judge Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 406]
A precise but important question is raised in this appeal. Does the Controller of the City of Philadelphia have the power to conduct an inspection and audit of the financial books and records of the Resident Advisory Board (Board)? The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, without an evidentiary hearing, ordered the inspection and audit. We reverse.
We are not confronted with the question of whether or not the Board's financial books and records may be inspected and audited by public officials but only whether the Controller of the City of Philadelphia has the authority to do so.
The powers of the City of Philadelphia and the duties of its officers are established by the Act of April 21, 1949, P.L. 665, 53 P.S. § 13101 et seq. (First Class City Home Rule Act); the Act of June 25, 1919, P.L. 581, 53 P.S. § 12101 et seq. (First Class Cities Act); and the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter (Charter) which the people of Philadelphia adopted on April 17, 1951, pursuant to the enabling First Class City Home Rule Act. Section 6-400(c) of the Charter provides:
"(c) Audits of the Financial Affairs of Officers, Departments, Boards, Commissions and Other Agencies. The Department [Auditing Department of the City Controller] shall audit at least annually the affairs of every officer, department, board, including the accounts of any board of directors of City trusts, and commission of the City and, as far as may be necessary, the accounts of any other agency receiving an appropriation from the City. . . .
"Special audits of the affairs of any officer, department, board, commission or agency may be made whenever in the judgment of the City Controller they appear necessary, and shall be made whenever the Mayor shall call upon the City Controller to make them."
[ 11 Pa. Commw. Page 407]
On March 1, 1972, the City of Philadelphia filed, in the lower court, an application for an inspection and audit of the financial books and records of the Board. The lower court set a hearing for March 3, 1972, and prior thereto the Board filed an answer and pled new matter, raising various factual issues relative to the allegations of the application. The City of Philadelphia did not file a reply to the new matter contained in the Board's answer and, absent the presentation of any evidence, the lower court, on March 3, 1972, entered its order directing the inspection and audit sought by the application.*fn1 We granted a supersedeas pending determination of this appeal on its merits.
The Board originally was an unincorporated association, created on March 25, 1969 by virtue of a memorandum of understanding by and between the Philadelphia Housing Authority (Authority) and the Tenants' Improvement Council of Tasker Homes, the Richard Allen Tenants' Council, and the Association for the Improvement of Richard Allen, all councils of low-in-come public ...