Original jurisdiction in case of The Townships of Springdale and Wilkins v. Robert P. Kane, Secretary of Revenue; Robert P. Casey, Auditor General; Israel Packel, Attorney General; and Grace M. Sloan, State Treasurer.
Franklyn E. Conflenti, with him David R. Cashman, and Cauley, Birsic & Conflenti, for plaintiffs.
Melvin R. Shuster, Deputy Attorney General, with him Gerald Gornish, Deputy Attorney General, Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, Craig R. Burgraff, Deputy Counsel, and Frank P. Lawley, Jr., Chief Counsel, for defendants.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Kramer. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Wilkinson. Judge Blatt joins in this dissent.
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 299]
This case involves a suit in equity filed by the Townships of Springdale and Wilkins, as a class action,*fn1 to effectuate the distribution of revenues received by the Commonwealth prior to June 1, 1970, to local taxing authorities in the amount of $30,506,545.00, pursuant to the Public Utility Realty Tax Act (PURTA).*fn2 The matter
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 300]
comes within the original jurisdiction of this Court and is before us on cross motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we deny the defendants' motion for summary judgment and sustain in part the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
On two prior occasions we have rendered opinions which overruled preliminary objections filed by the parties.*fn3 This opinion, as well as the prior opinions, involves an interpretation of Article VIII, Section 4 of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1968*fn4 and PURTA. The
[ 23 Pa. Commw. Page 301]
historical background and purpose of Article VIII, Section 4 and PURTA have been set forth many times*fn5 and need not be repeated here. We believe it will be helpful, however, to set forth certain facts pertinent to this opinion.
PURTA became law on March 10, 1970, and on or about June 1, 1970,*fn6 the Commonwealth collected $29,359,626.00*fn7 of PURTA tax levied on public utility real estate. No special account has ever been established for PURTA funds. All of the PURTA tax revenues collected on or about June 1, 1970, were deposited in the General Fund and commingled with other funds. The Commonwealth admits in its Answer that none of the PURTA tax revenue collected in 1970 has ever been distributed to any local taxing authority pursuant to ...