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WEST ALLEGHENY HOSPITAL v. BOARD PROPERTY ASSESSMENT (12/23/82)

decided: December 23, 1982.

WEST ALLEGHENY HOSPITAL, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENT, APPEALS AND REVIEW OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY AND WEST ALLEGHENY SCHOOL DISTRICT



No. 23 W.D. Appeal Docket, 1982, Appeal from an Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 1171 C.D. 1980, entered December 31, 1981, reversing orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at Nos. 2287 July Term, 1974 and G.D. 75-3752, entered April 17, 1980.

COUNSEL

Samuel Y. Stroh, Raymond H. Bogaty, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Jane D. Elliott, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, Philadelphia, for amicus curiae Hospital Ass'n of Pa.

D.R. Pellegrini, W. Theodore Brooks, Pittsburgh, for West Allegheny School Dist.

William J. Fahey, John M. Silvestri, Patrick J. Loughney, Pittsburgh, for Bd. of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County.

O'Brien, C.j., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. Flaherty, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion, in which Hutchinson, J., joins.

Author: Roberts

[ 500 Pa. Page 238]

OPINION OF THE COURT

At issue on this appeal is whether the health care facilities of appellant West Allegheny Hospital, a non-profit corporation founded in 1956, are exempt from real estate taxes imposed by appellee West Allegheny School District. Two facilities are involved, one of which was acquired by appellant in late 1964 and was in operation until 1973, the other of which was built by appellant in 1973 and has been in operation since.

The Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review of Allegheny County denied both of appellant's applications for an exemption. After evidentiary hearings, the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entered orders sustaining both of appellant's appeals from the adverse rulings of the Board. A divided panel of the Commonwealth Court entered an order reversing the orders of the court of common pleas. This Court granted allowance of appeal.

After a review of our case law interpreting the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions, we conclude that the present record establishes appellant's entitlement to an exemption with respect to both health care facilities. Hence, we reverse the order of the Commonwealth Court and reinstate the orders of the court of common pleas. 63 Pa. Commw. 555, 439 A.2d 1293.

The basis for appellant's claims of exemption is section 204(a)(3) of the General County Assessment Law, Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-204(a)(3) (Supp. 1982), a statute enacted by the Legislature pursuant to its constitutional authority to confer tax-exempt status on "institutions of purely public charity," Pa. Const. art. VIII, § 2.*fn1 Section 204(a)(3) confers an exemption on "[a]ll hospitals,

[ 500 Pa. Page 239]

    universities, colleges, seminaries, academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence, or charity, including fire and rescue stations, with the grounds thereto annexed and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same, founded, endowed, and maintained by public or private charity . . . ." These requirements are subject to the following: "Provided, That the entire revenue derived by the same be applied to the support and to increase the ...


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