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MECHANICSBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT v. HONORABLE CARYL M. KLINE (07/08/81)

decided: July 8, 1981.

MECHANICSBURG AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLANT,
v.
HONORABLE CARYL M. KLINE, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, ET AL.



No. 175 January Term, 1979, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Dated March 23, 1979 Docketed to No. 1163 C.D. 1978

COUNSEL

Richard C. Snelbaker, Mechanicsburg, for appellant.

Susan J. Forney, Dept. Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellees.

Michael I. Levin, Harrisburg, Amicus Curiae for Pa. School Boards Assn.

Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, and Kauffman, JJ. O'Brien, C. J., and Wilkinson, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision in this case. Roberts and Flaherty, JJ., concurred in the result.

Author: Nix

[ 494 Pa. Page 479]

OPINION

On May 24, 1978 appellant instituted an action in equity, deemed a petition for review in the nature of a complaint in equity, in the Commonwealth Court, seeking to enjoin the Secretary of Revenue, Secretary of Education, Auditor General and State Treasurer from paying the final installment of school subsidies for the 1977-1978 school year. Appellant also sought to compel the Secretary of Revenue to take the steps necessary to correct alleged errors in the "personal income valuation" attributed by the Secretary of Revenue to the Mechanicsburg Area School District in his certification to the Secretary of Education for use in determining the "market value/income aid" ratio*fn1 mandated by the Act of August 24, 1977 (Act No. 59), P.L. 199, 24 P.S. ยงยง 25-2501 to 2502.3 which amended the Public School Code of 1949 (Code).*fn2 The gravamen of Mechanicsburg's complaint is that the Secretary of Revenue erroneously included 1,084 persons in the 8,239 total of taxpayers whose incomes were attributed to the Mechanicsburg Area School District and used in computing Mechanicsburg's taxable income for subsidy purposes.*fn3 It was alleged that the error would result in

[ 494 Pa. Page 480]

    a loss of approximately $57,823.96 to appellant. The Secretary of Revenue conceded it was "entirely possible that many districts were either under or over valuated."*fn4

Although the Secretary of Education had made two estimated payments based upon the anticipated subsidy determination, the final and third such payment, due June 1,*fn5 had not been made when appellant gave notice to appellees of the error and instituted suit for its correction. The Secretary of Education, the State Treasurer and the Secretary of Revenue filed preliminary objections to the complaint, raising the issues of failure to join indispensable parties, failure to join necessary parties and laches. On March 23, 1979, the

[ 494 Pa. Page 481]

Commonwealth Court held the preliminary objections raising laches to be without merit, but dismissed the petition for review without prejudice for want of joinder of all other school districts, stating "As they [all other school districts] are not parties, we are without jurisdiction to proceed . . . ." Mechanicsburg Area School District v. Kline, et al., 41 Pa. Commw. 371, 375, 399 A.2d 1136, 1138 (1979). It is from the ...


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