Original jurisdiction in case of Mechanicsburg Area School District v. Honorable Caryl M. Kline, Secretary of Education et al.
Richard C. Snelbaker, with him Snelbaker, McCaleb & Elicker, for plaintiff.
Susan J. Forney, Deputy Attorney General, with her Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, Norman J. Watkins, Deputy Attorney General, Timothy J. Holland, Deputy Attorney General, Robert P. Meehan, Deputy Attorney General, and Lester Eisenstadt, Deputy Attorney General, for defendants.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Rogers, Blatt, DiSalle and Craig. Judges Mencer and MacPhail did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.
[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 372]
By complaint in equity, which we shall consider as a petition for review in the nature of a complaint in equity, Pa. R.A.P. 1503, Mechanicsburg Area School District seeks injunctive and other relief against the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Revenue, the State Treasurer and the Auditor General.
The gravamen of the School District's petition is alleged error on the part of the Secretary of Revenue, and reliance thereon by the Secretary of Education, in determining the "market value/income aid" ratio -- one of three basic elements of the state subsidy formula -- as mandated by the Act of August 24, 1977 (Act No. 59), P.L. 199, 24 P.S. §§ 25-2501 to 2502.3, which amended the Public School Code of 1949, Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, as amended, 24 P.S. § 1-101 et seq.
Act No. 59 requires the Secretary of Revenue to determine and certify to the Secretary of Education the "personal income valuation" of each school district for purposes of reimbursement which shall be "the valuation of the total taxable income determined under Article III of the Act of March 4, 1971 (P.L. 6, No. 2), known as the 'Tax Reform Code of 1971'. . . ."
By separate counts against each respondent, the School District alleges its personal income valuation was incorrectly computed by the Secretary of Revenue, and relied upon by the Secretary of Education in determining its state subsidy. It seeks a recalculation
[ 41 Pa. Commw. Page 373]
of its personal income valuation, recomputation of its subsidy payable (now paid) for the school year 1977-78 and injunctive relief against each of the respondents in their respective administrative and fiscal capacities with respect to the subsidy year in question.
Before us at this juncture are preliminary objections by the respondents asserting (1) want of jurisdiction of this Court to entertain and act upon the petition for review for failure of the School District to join all other school districts of the Commonwealth as indispensable parties, and (2) laches.
"In Pennsylvania, an indispensable party is one whose rights are so directly connected with and affected by litigation that he must be a party of record to protect such rights, and his absence renders any order or decree of court null and void for want of jurisdiction." Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. v. Diamond Fuel Co., 464 Pa. 377, 379, 346 A.2d 788, ...