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BOROUGH ROCHESTER v. ROBERTA GEARY AND COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/10/77)

decided: June 10, 1977.

BOROUGH OF ROCHESTER
v.
ROBERTA GEARY AND COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT. BOROUGH OF ROCHESTER V. ROBERTA GEARY, APPELLANT



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County in case of Borough of Rochester v. Roberta Geary, No. 1652 of 1975.

COUNSEL

James P. O'Connell, with him Robert W. Lewis, Jr., for Roberta Geary.

Patricia G. Miller, with her Michael Louik, Assistant Attorney General, and Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for Commonwealth.

J. Frank Kelker, for Borough of Rochester.

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

Author: Wilkinson

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 495]

These consolidated appeals present the question of whether or not appellant,*fn1 a mother with two children, whose sole source of income is public assistance, either has a statutory right under Section 37 of the Local Tax Collection Law, Act of May 25, 1945, P.L. 1050, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5511.37, to be exonerated from her 1974 per capita tax, as assessed by appellee or a right to be excluded from the payment of her per capita tax as not being the proper subject of such a tax under Section 2 of The Local Tax Enabling Act, Act of December 31, 1965, P.L. 1257, as amended, 53 P.S. § 6902.*fn2 The Beaver County Court of Common Pleas rejected both of these contentions. We agree and affirm.

Pursuant to The Local Tax Enabling Act, 53 P.S. § 6901 et seq., appellee enacted Ordinance No. 702 which provides for a five dollar per capita tax to be assessed against every resident of the borough over 18 years of age. Appellant is a resident of the borough, over 18 years of age, and a mother of two children whose sole source of income is public assistance under the federally funded Aid for Dependent Children

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 496]

Program. 42 U.S.C. § 601 et seq. Appellant received a bill for her 1974 per capita tax, did not pay the tax and was served with a Notice of Distraint for Delinquent Taxes. Appellant then requested an exoneration from the per capita tax which was refused by appellee. Appellee then filed an action in assumpsit before a District Magistrate which resulted in a judgment against appellant. Appeal was taken to the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by its Attorney General petitioned to intervene as a defendant (which petition was granted), asserting an interest in assuring that public assistance monies are used solely for the purposes for which they are allocated and in its capacity as parens patriae to protect the general welfare of its citizens. The appeal was dismissed by the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas. This appeal followed.

The crux of appellants' argument is that Section 37, 72 P.S. § 5511.37, provides a statutory right to indigent persons to be exonerated from the payment of per capita taxes. Section 37 reads in pertinent part:

Taxing districts shall at all times make exonerations for uncollectible occupation, poll and per capita taxes, mistakes, indigent persons, unseated lands, deaths, removals, et cetera, as to them shall appear just and reasonable. The chief clerk or secretary, as the case may be, of each taxing district shall enter in a book or books, to be kept for that purpose, the names of all persons exonerated, together with the reason why, the amount of the tax, and date when made, and give to the tax collector a certificate ...


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