Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County in case of Appeal of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg From the Dauphin County Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes, No. 5371 S 1978.
John C. Howett, Jr., Friedman & Friedman, for appellant.
William M. Young, McNees, Wallace & Nurick, with him Francis B. Haas, Jr., and Stuart J. Magdule, for appellees.
Judges Wilkinson, Jr., MacPhail and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 300]
The Harrisburg School District, the City of Harrisburg, and the County of Dauphin (Appellants) appeal
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 301]
from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, reversing the Dauphin County Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes (Board) and holding that Appellants have no power to tax certain real estate owned by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Harrisburg (Authority).
The Authority acquired thirty-six parcels of real estate for future redevelopment, in addition to other parcels already conveyed to developers, pursuant to an urban renewal plan adopted by the City of Harrisburg in accordance with the Urban Redevelopment Law (URL), Act of May 24, 1945, P.L. 991, as amended, 35 P.S. § 1701 et seq. The Chief Assessor of Dauphin County entered the thirty-six properties on the tax rolls as taxable property. That action prompted the Authority to petition the Board to find that the local taxing jurisdictions lacked the power to levy real estate taxes on the property of the Authority, being an agency of the Commonwealth, or in the alternative, that the Authority's real estate was exempt from local property taxes as public property used for a public purpose.
The Authority and Appellants submitted statements and a stipulation of facts to the Board. The Board held that sixteen of the thirty-six properties in question were exempt from local real estate taxes, but that the remaining twenty were not. The Authority appealed the Board's decision to the Court of Common Pleas. Appellants did not cross-appeal from the Board's exemption of the sixteen properties, and thus the only properties involved in this appeal are the twenty found taxable by the Board.
Judge Caldwell, the trial judge, found our decision in Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 207, 319 A.2d 10 (1974), referred to as SEPTA case, to be controlling of the disposition of the instant case. In SEPTA, this Court unanimously
[ 53 Pa. Commw. Page 302]
held that real estate owned by SEPTA, an agency and instrumentality of the Commonwealth, could not be subjected to local taxation because of the absence of a specific delegation of taxing authority by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to the local taxing authorities. No such delegation of taxing power was contained within the provisions of the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities Act of 1963 (MTA), Act of August 14, 1963, P.L. 984, as amended, 66 P.S. § 2001 et seq., the act which created SEPTA, nor in any other relevant statutes.
In the instant case, real estate is owned by the Authority, which is also an agency and instrumentality of the Commonwealth. Herriman v. Carducci, 475 Pa. 359, 380 A.2d 761 (1977). The language of the URL, the Authority's enabling act, providing that a Redevelopment Authority shall not be deemed to be an instrumentality of a city or county, Section 4(a) of the URL, 35 P.S. § 1704(a), but "shall constitute a public body," and exercise "public powers of the Commonwealth as an agency thereof," Section 9 of the URL, 35 P.S. § 1709, is nearly identical to the language of the MTA designating each transportation authority as an agency and instrumentality of the Commonwealth, Section 4(a) of the MTA, 66 P.S. § 2004(a). Like the MTA, the URL also contains no specific delegation of powers to local authorities to tax properties owned by entities created under the URL and no such delegation has been found elsewhere.
On appeal the Appellants argue to us, however, (1) that the SEPTA decision, though controlling, is incorrectly decided and should be overruled, because Appellants, as local taxing authorities, do have the power to tax the Authority's property; and (2) that if Appellants have the power to impose local taxes, the real estate owned by the ...