Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in the case of Leo Lynn v. County of Lackawanna, Charles Luger and Robert Pettinato, County Commissioners, No. 81 Civil 7696.
James J. Ligi, Solicitor, with him Brian J. Cali, Assistant County Solicitor, for Charles Luger and Robert Pettinato, Commissioners, and the County of Lackawanna.
Paul A. McGlone, for Leo Lynn.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Blatt, Craig and MacPhail. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Judge Rogers and Craig dissent in 974 C.d. 1982.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 240]
These cross appeals involve Leo Lynn's (taxpayer) assertion that the tax system imposed by the County of Lackawanna County Officers, Charles Luger and Robert Pettinato, and the County Commissioners (tax authorities) exceeds by approximately 5 mills the 25 millage maximum set forth in Article III, § 302(c) of the Lackawanna County Home Rule Charter (Charter), which provides in part as follows:
The Board of Commissioners shall have . . . the following powers:
(c) To levy taxes, assessments, and service charges. The maximum millage allowable under existing procedures shall be 25 mills. Upon imposition of such a tax rate, any millage increase which exceeds 5% of the preceding year's rate of millage shall be effective only if approved by a referendum of the qualified electors of the county. (Emphasis added.)
Before the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County the taxpayer argued in a petition for a declaratory judgment that the 4 mill assessment on personal property and the 4.2 mill assessment for debt service were both to be included in determining the total existing millage in order to see whether or not the 25 mill limitation was exceeded. The taxing authorities argued to the contrary, and additionally alleged that the above provision of the Charter was unconstitutional insofar as it attempted to restrict the levying of debt service millage.
In 974 C.D. 1982, the taxpayer appeals the trial court's conclusion that personal property millage was not to be included in the calculation under Article III, § 302(c). In 881 C.D. 1982, the tax authorities appeal the trial court's conclusion that the aforementioned provision of the Charter was constitutional.
[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 241974]
In arriving at its conclusion that personal property millage ought not to be included in the calculation of the "maximum millage allowable" under Article III, § 302(c) of the Charter, the trial court reasoned:
The nature of the property base is radically different, the class of taxpayers is significantly different. . . . Including the millage rate on personal property in the total millage rate which purports to be regulated by the Home Rule Charter will lead only to absurd results. For example, it would make very little sense for those who engender the county budget to make any assessment on personal property when one mill of personal property ...