Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: Appeal of Souderton Area School District from Decision of Board of Assessment Appeals of Bucks County, No. 80-10366-12-6.
Martin J. King, for appellant.
Marc B. Davis, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
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The Bucks County Board of Assessment Appeals has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, which on the appeal of the Souderton Area School District, reduced the board's assessment for local taxes in the years 1980 and 1981 of the Telford Elementary School.
The Telford schoolhouse is owned by the appellee, the Souderton Area School District. The property consists of a total of 11.2 acres, of which the school building and curtilage comprise about 2.5 acres and various athletic facilities and a ravine comprise the rest. This case concerns only the building and its curtilage. The school building has not been used for functional purposes since 1977. A part of the building is used by the district for storage; other parts are rented to the Evangelical Mission Church, the Zion Fellowship Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
[ 72 Pa. Commw. Page 616]
Saints, the Montgomery County Head Start Program, the Bucks County Child Care Center and the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The school district has no plans to dispose of the school and may in the future again use it for classroom instruction. The school district rented the building in order to prevent vandalism and defray some of its cost of having it. It seems that the building nevertheless is retained at a loss.
In 1980, the Board of Assessment determined that the building was no longer being used as a schoolhouse and placed it on the list of taxable, that is, non-exempt, properties at the assessments, after appeal to the board, of $21,000 for the year 1980 and $27,900 for the year 1981. On the school district's appeal, after hearing, the common pleas court decided that only that part of the building used by the Chamber of Commerce was not entitled to exemption and reduced the assessments to $827 for the year 1980 and to $680 for the year 1981.
The Legislature is empowered to exempt real estate from local taxation. Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 8, Section 2. The Legislature has exercised this power, inter alia, by Section 202 of The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, as amended, 72 P.S. § ...