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ROBERT W. SYMON ET AL. v. CHARLES R. TOMLJANOVIC (01/14/83)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: January 14, 1983.

ROBERT W. SYMON ET AL., APPELLANTS
v.
CHARLES R. TOMLJANOVIC, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of Charles R. Tomljanovic v. Robert W. Symon, Martha Banda, Robert F. Beatty, George F. Brown, William Gentile, Jr., Harry L. Helsel, Ronald R. Stevens, Anthony C. Truscello and Owen W. Wissenger, as Councilmen of the City of Johnstown, and the City of Johnstown, No. 1980-4442.

COUNSEL

W. Patrick James, for appellants.

Russell J. Heiple, for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 206]

Cambria County Common Pleas Court, by order, voided an ordinance adopted by the Johnstown City Council. We reverse.

Johnstown City Council (Council) enacted Ordinance No. 4195*fn1 (ordinance) on July 9, 1980, which

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 207]

    amended Section 603 of the City's Administrative Code.*fn2 Section 603 had vested in the Mayor the power of contract administration. Mayor Tomljanovic (Mayor) vetoed the ordinance and Council subsequently overrode his veto. The Mayor then brought an action under the Declaratory Judgment Act*fn3 to determine whether Council had the power to adopt and enact the amended ordinance.

The court held that, under the Optional Third Class City Charter Law*fn4 (Law), the Mayor's power to "execute" contracts included all phases of the contractual process. It then ruled that the ordinance infringed on an exclusively executive function.

The issue before us is whether Council exceeded its authority by enacting this ordinance. Its resolution of this issue, as it applies to a legal instrument, hinges on the definition of "execute." Section 1903 of the Statutory Construction Act*fn5 states:

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 208]

(a) Words and phrases shall be construed according to rules of grammar and according to their common and approved usage; but technical words and phrases and such others as to have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning or are defined in this part, shall be construed according to such peculiar and appropriate meaning or definition.

Execute means to "perform what is required to give validity to."*fn6 In this context, "execute" clearly means to discharge the ministerial duties relating to a contract. The common pleas court erred by expanding this definition.

Section 41407 of the Law*fn7 states:

The legislative Power of the city shall be exercised by the city council except as may be otherwise provided by general law.

The general law only vested in the Mayor the power to "execute" contracts, which does not include the express power of negotiation. Council, therefore, has the authority to amend its own properly-enacted ordinance.*fn8

Reversed.

Order

Order No. 1980-4442 of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, dated June 22, 1981, is hereby reversed.

Disposition

Reversed.


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