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.
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.
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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
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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:
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(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 ...