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AMRIT LAL v. WEST CHESTER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL. (01/18/83)

decided: January 18, 1983.

AMRIT LAL, PETITIONER
v.
WEST CHESTER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in case of Amrit Lal v. West Chester Area School Districts, Tax Claim Bureau, Tax Collector, Thornbury Township and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Department of Education.

COUNSEL

Eugene A. Steger, Jr., Steger & Howell, Ltd., for petitioner.

Randy L. Sebastian, with him Mary Ann Rossi, MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher, O'Donnell & Featherman, Ltd., for respondents.

Marybeth A. Stanton, Deputy Attorney General, with her Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Education.

Judges Blatt, Williams, Jr. and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 237]

In this original jurisdiction matter, West Chester Area School District and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

[ 71 Pa. Commw. Page 238]

    have filed preliminary objections to Amrit Lal's complaint, which alleges procedural defects in the implementation of the school district's tax and challenges the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania system of school financing which primarily relies on local tax revenues.

In 1977, Amrit Lal owned a tax parcel numbered 66-2-37, containing five acres, two dwellings and a building, assessed at $21,030, in Thornbury Township. Lal resided in West Chester.

That year, the school district delivered tax duplicates for parcel 66-2-37 to the tax collector of Thornbury Township to send to Lal. Lal denies that he received notice of these school taxes; he paid taxes for other properties owned by him in the school district for the year 1977. In April, 1978, Lal offered to pay the tax due ($1,724.46) on parcel 66-2-37, but he refused to pay the 10% late penalty. Accordingly, the tax collector refused to accept the payment and lodged a tax claim against that parcel.

Lal filed exceptions to the tax claim; after an evidentiary hearing, the Tax Claim Bureau of Chester County disallowed the exceptions. Then Lal petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County to dismiss, reduce, or set aside the bureau's lien against his property. Almost four years later, Lal amended his petition to join the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its Department of Education as defendants in order to challenge the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's public school financing system.

In March, 1982, the Commonwealth defendants filed preliminary objections asserting, among other points, lack of jurisdiction in the county court. Lal then requested, and the common pleas court granted, a transfer of his action to this court. ...


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