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COUNTY MIFFLIN v. MIFFLIN COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY ET AL. (12/03/81)

decided: December 3, 1981.

COUNTY OF MIFFLIN, APPELLANT
v.
MIFFLIN COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County in the case of County of Mifflin v. Mifflin County Airport Authority and Donald A. Walters, Jr., Ronald N. Myers, Dr. Robert L. Kaufman and Marvin R. Clemens, No. 409 of 1980 in Mandamus.

COUNSEL

Timothy S. Searer, with him Francis A. Searer, Searer & Torquato, for appellant.

Jeffrey L. Snook, Brugler & Levin, with him Edward E. Knauss IV, Metzger, Wickersham, Knauss & Erb, for appellees.

Judges Mencer, Rogers and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 57]

The County of Mifflin (County) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County denying the County's action for a writ of mandamus against the Mifflin County Airport Authority (Authority).

By its mandamus action the County sought to compel the Authority to transfer to the County all the property of the Mifflin County Airport.*fn1 After a trial, the lower court concluded that the County did not have a clear legal right to such a property transfer; accordingly, the court denied the relief sought.

In March 1964 the County incorporated the Authority, pursuant to the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945.*fn2 According to its stated corporate purpose, the Authority was to acquire, hold, construct, improve, maintain and operate "projects in the nature of airports." After the incorporation of the Authority, the Mifflin County Airport was constructed with funds from local, state, and federal sources; as well as with funds from various bond issues and notes. From its inception, the County Airport has been maintained and operated by the Authority. Among the debts incurred

[ 63 Pa. Commw. Page 58]

    by the Authority itself were two bond issues: "Airport Revenue Bonds, Series of 1965," in a principal amount of $250,000; and a supplemental bond issue entitled "Airport Revenue Bonds, Series of 1971," in a principal amount of $150,000. These two Authority bond issues remained outstanding at all times material to the instant case.

On February 14, 1980, the County adopted an ordinance which directed the Authority to transfer and convey, to the County, all the property of the County Airport; and to do so within twenty days.*fn3 The Authority refused to comply. Consequently, on March 6, 1980, the County filed its action for a writ of mandamus to compel the Authority to comply with the ordinance. There was no contention by the County of any failure or neglect by the Authority in the operation of the Airport. The County simply desired to gain direct control of the facility.

In resisting the ordinance and the County's mandamus action, the Authority challenged the legality of transferring the Airport's assets under the circumstances of this case. Specifically, the Authority asserted that such a transfer would violate, inter alia, the provisions of the ...


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