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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. TAX CLAIM BUREAU SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (01/13/75)

decided: January 13, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE GAME COMMISSION, APPELLANT,
v.
TAX CLAIM BUREAU OF SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, APPELLEE



Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuykill County in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission v. Schuylkill County Tax Claim Bureau, Nos. 547 January Term, 1972, 24 March Term, 1972, and 25 March Term, 1972.

COUNSEL

Fred C. Pace, with him Noonan, Pace & Noone, for appellant.

Charles L. Frank, Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 16]

Three cases, each involving a separate tract of barren land in Schuylkill County, are consolidated here for our disposition. The facts differ only as to the size of the tracts and the dates of some of the initial proceedings. The legal issue involved is identical in each case: In counties which have adopted the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5860.101 et seq., must the Tax Claim Bureau, established by that Act, sell land to the State Game Commission at the price bid by the Commission, under the Act of April 21, 1915, P.L. 140, as amended, 32 P.S. §§ 163 and 164? We agree with the court below and hold that the appellee is not required to comply with the 1915 Act.

All the land in question here had been obtained and was held by the Schuylkill County Commissioners prior to 1947 for non-payment of taxes. When the Act of 1947 was passed, it became operative in Schuylkill County by its own terms when the County took no action to reject it. In accordance with that Act, the land was transferred to the newly created Tax Claim Bureau. In December 1971, and January 1972, the Tax Claim Bureau petitioned the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas for permission to sell the land at public sale, free and clear of all claims, liens, etc., in accordance with the Act of 1947. The court below so ordered and scheduled public sales in April 1972. Shortly before the dates of the sales, appellant petitioned

[ 17 Pa. Commw. Page 17]

    the court to stay the sales and to compel conveyance of the land to the Game Commission pursuant to the Act of 1915. On November 2, 1972, hearings were held and on February 11, 1974, in two opinions covering all three tracts of land, the court dismissed appellant's petition and ordered that the land be sold at public sale.

Section 1 of the Act of 1915, 32 P.S. § 163, upon which appellant relies, provides, in pertinent part:

"When county commissioners shall have received from the county treasurer a conveyance of lands which shall have been advertised and sold for unpaid taxes, in accordance with the several acts of Assembly relating to the sale and conveyance of lands for taxes, the said commissioners are hereby directed, after the period for redemption of said lands shall have expired, to offer said lands to the Department of Forests and Waters and the Board of Game Commissioners, for acceptance or rejection by said department or commission, for forestry or game purposes, when required so to do by the Department of Forests and Waters or the Board of Game Commissioners. . . ."

Appellant had informed appellee that it wanted to purchase the land under the authority of the above quoted law for $15.00 an acre, which offer was rejected by appellee. Appellant asserts that the Act of 1915 is not inconsistent with the Act of 1947, and that the Act of 1947 does not apply to sales to the Game Commission. Appellee claims that the general repealer of the 1947 Act, 72 P.S. § 5860.802, repeals the 1915 Act, because the 1915 Act is inconsistent with the power and authority granted to the Tax Claim Bureau by Sections 702 and 703 of the Act of 1947, 72 P.S. § 5860.702 and § 5860.703 (Supp. 1974-1975). We agree with the court below that the Act of 1915 is inconsistent with the ...


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