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MUHLENBERG TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY v. CITY READING (06/27/83)

decided: June 27, 1983.

MUHLENBERG TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY, APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF READING, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County in the case of Muhlenberg Township Authority v. City of Reading, Nos. 16 June 1981, A.D., 34 June 1981, J.D. and 132 October 1980, M.L.D.

COUNSEL

Mark G. Yoder, with him Ralph J. Althouse, Jr., Bingaman, Hess, Coblentz & Bell, for appellant.

Jack A. Linton, City Solicitor, with him Peter F. Cianci, First Assistant City Solicitor, for appellee.

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

Author: Craig

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 227]

The Muhlenberg Township Authority has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County which, in a scire facias sur municipal claim,

[ 75 Pa. Commw. Page 228]

    struck off an assessment lien for a sewer improvement, which the township authority had filed against property of the City of Reading located in Muhlenberg Township. The common pleas court entered its summary judgment on the basis of a conclusion that the city property, used for the storage of recreational equipment, an acknowledged public purpose, was exempt from the imposition of such a lien.

The basic question here, purely one of law, is whether city property used for a public purpose, and located within an adjacent township, is exempt from the lien of an assessment for the benefits of a sewer project constructed by the township's authority.

There is no disagreement concerning the fundamental premise that:

It is well settled that in the absence of a statute to the contrary, public property used for public purposes is exempt from taxation and from assessments for improvements and no express exemption law is needed: Dornan v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, 331 Pa. 209, 228, 200 A. 834. . . . (Emphasis in original.)

Southwest Delaware County Municipal Authority v. Aston Township, 413 Pa. 526, 532, 198 A.2d 867, 871 (1964).

The pivotal question, then, is whether we find such a statute to the contrary -- subjecting public use property to a sewer lien -- when we turn to section 5 of the Lien Act, Act of May 16, 1923, P.L. 207, as ...


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