Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Appeal of Estate of Louis Genes, Deceased, Edward Hunt, Anthony Pastrick and Robert Terza, former firemen of the City of Duquesne, Pennsylvania, from the Order of the City of Duquesne Civil Service Commission sustaining the action of the City of Duquesne terminating their employment, No. S.A. 849 of 1974.
Edgar M. Snyder, with him Daniel R. Delaney, for appellants.
Norman M. Bartko, City Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 621]
Louis Genes,*fn1 Edward Hunt, Anthony Pastrick and Robert Terza, veteran firemen,*fn2 were removed from their positions of City employment for asserted reasons of economy. They sought and were granted a hearing before the City's Civil Service Commission which upheld their removal. The firemen appealed the Commission's decision to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. The Court of Common Pleas affirmed the Commission's action, by order without opinion; and the firemen have appealed the court's order to this Court.
The firemen contended before the Commission and the court below and still assert (1) that they were not removed for reasons of economy as permitted by Section 11 of the Act of May 31, 1933 (Act), P.L. 1108, as amended, 53 P.S. § 39871, and (2) that their removal was politically motivated in violation of Section 10 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 39870.
[ 27 Pa. Commw. Page 622]
Section 11 reads pertinently:
If for reasons of economy, or other reasons, it shall be deemed necessary by any city to reduce the number of paid members of any fire department, or the number of fire alarm operators or fire box inspectors in the bureau of electricity, then such city shall follow the following procedure:
First. If there are any paid firemen, fire alarm operators or fire box inspectors eligible for retirement under the terms of any pension fund, then such reduction in numbers shall be made by retirement on pension of all the oldest in age and service.
Section 10 provides, inter alia, that a fireman may not be removed except for good cause, which shall not be political. Section 12, 53 P.S. § 39872, although not expressly relied upon by the appellants, provides a definition of political cause by its prohibition of discrimination against some employees, including firemen, because of their "political opinions or affiliations."
We discover by reviewing the record that the appellants are four of a total of 14 employees removed from City employment at a savings to the City of $131,000; an amount equal to about nine percent of the City's annual budget and hence clearly substantial. The firemen, nevertheless, contend that indications in the record that (1) the City of Duquesne was not in a condition of fiscal distress when they were removed, (2) the money saved by their removal was spent for other purposes, and (3) the City's tax rate was decreased by only one mill, prove the falsity of the asserted economic basis for their removal. We ...