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CARL L. HECKNAUER v. JOHN R. CODER (11/03/77)

decided: November 3, 1977.

CARL L. HECKNAUER, APPELLANT
v.
JOHN R. CODER, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF WILLIAMSPORT, AND THE CITY OF WILLIAMSPORT, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County in case of Carl L. Hecknauer v. John R. Coder, Mayor of the City of Williamsport, and the City of Williamsport, No. 75-0381.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Wise, for appellant.

Norman M. Lubin, with him Michael J. Casale, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 309]

The issue presented in this appeal is whether appellant, Carl L. Hecknauer, appointed by the mayor of the City of Williamsport to the position of city zoning officer and codes administrator, was entitled to a hearing under the Local Agency Law*fn1 incident to being discharged from that position by the mayor. The court below concluded that appellant was not entitled to such a hearing. We agree, and, therefore, affirm.

The facts of this case are not in dispute. In 1969, appellant was appointed city zoning administrator by the city council of the City of Williamsport. In 1972,

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 310]

    when the City adopted the Mayor-Council Plan A form of government pursuant to the Optional Third Class City Charter Law,*fn2 all existing appointive offices were abolished, and the terms of all appointed officers ceased on the effective date of the optional plan.*fn3 Under the new city charter, appellant was reappointed city zoning administrator, this time by the mayor of Williamsport. Appellant served in this position until January 10, 1975, when he was orally discharged by the mayor.*fn4 There was no hearing prior to appellant's dismissal, nor was appellant given an opportunity for a hearing before or after discharge.

Appellant subsequently filed a mandamus action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County seeking reinstatement to his position and payment of back salary and other emoluments of office. At trial, appellant's sole basis for recovery was that appellees failed to comply with the Local Agency Law in that appellant was not given reasonable notice of a hearing or an opportunity to be heard in connection with his dismissal. The court below granted appellees' motion for compulsory non-suit and dismissed appellant's complaint with prejudice. This appeal followed.

It is conceded by appellant that the mayor of Williamsport had the right to dismiss appellant from his position. Section 415(e) of the Optional Third Class City Charter Law, 53 P.S. § 41415(e), provides that, under Mayor-Council Plan A, department heads may, with the approval of the mayor, dismiss subordinate officers and employees who are not employed in civil

[ 32 Pa. Commw. Page 311]

    service jobs. Given the facts here, the mayor himself had the authority to fire appellant pursuant to Section 415(e), since ...


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