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AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY v. BOARD PROPERTY ASSESSMENT (05/13/75)

decided: May 13, 1975.

THE AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA. BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, AND COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY V. THE AMERICAN TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Albert J. Tomalis, Jr., Metzger, Hafer, Keefer, Thomas & Wood, Harrisburg, for appellant; James H. Peters, Chief Tax Atty., Robert L. Nathanson, Tax Atty., New York City, of counsel.

Thomas M. Rutter, Jr., Acting County Sol., John G. Arch, Asst. County Sol., Stephen A. Zappala, County Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Samuel C. Harry, Harrisburg, for amici curiae, the Pennsylvania Members of the Nat. Ass'n of Water Companies; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Harrisburg, of counsel.

Frank A. Sinon, Walter K. Swartzkoph, Jr., Rhoads, Sinon & Reader, Harrisburg, for amicus curiae, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp.; Thomas E. Morgan, Larry L. Roller, Charleston, W. Virginia, of counsel.

Gilbert Nurick, Harrisburg, Robert R. Batt, Louis W. Ricker, Philadelphia, for amici curiae, Cleveland Elec. Illuminating Co., Ohio Edison Co., and Toledo Edison Co.; McHees, Wallace & Nurick, Harrisburg, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Philadelphia, of counsel.

Robert R. Batt, Louis W. Ricker, Philadelphia, Harry J. Rubin, Harrisburg, for amici curiae, Atlantic City Elec. Co., Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co., Delmarva Power & Light Co., Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co., Potomac Elec. Power Co., and Public Serv. Elec. & Gas Co.; Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll, Philadelphia, Krekstein, Rubin & Lasday, Harrisburg, of counsel.

Gordon W. Gerber, William A. Kelley, Jr., Alfred A. Gollatz, Dechert, Price & Rhoads, Philadelphia, amici curiae for Western Pennsylvania Water Co., Keystone Water Co. and Riverton Consolidated Water Co.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 461 Pa. Page 719]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court*fn1 holding that a public utility's payment of the tax

[ 461 Pa. Page 720]

    imposed by the Public Utility Realty Tax Act*fn2 (PURTA) was not in lieu of local real estate taxes pursuant to article VIII, section 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, P.S.*fn3 We conclude that the Commonwealth Court erroneously construed article VIII, section 4 and reverse.

This case requires analysis of the interaction of article VIII, section 4 and PURTA. A clearer understanding of the issues presented will be facilitated by a review of the history of these two provisions. This then is the beginning of our consideration.

I.

From 1826, when this Court decided Schuylkill Bridge Co. v. Frailey, 13 S. & R. 422 (Pa.1826), until 1968, when article VIII, ...


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