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ADAMS COUNTY v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (07/01/83)

decided: July 1, 1983.

ADAMS COUNTY, ET AL.
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, ET AL., APPELLANTS



No. 26 M.D. Appeal Dkt. 1982, Appeal from Decree of Commonwealth Court at No. 2116 C.D. 1980, dated August 11, 1982, Pa. Commw. , Roberts, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Zappala, JJ. Nix and Hutchinson, JJ., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 502 Pa. Page 49]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from a final decree of the Commonwealth Court which, on cross-motions for summary judgment, directed appellants, the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and its Secretary, to submit a request to the General Assembly for an appropriation of State funds to supplement appropriations of $88.245 million and $4 million made during fiscal year 1980 to DPW for child welfare programs. The amount which the Commonwealth Court directed DPW to request is the difference between the amount of funds actually appropriated and a percentage of appellees' estimated costs of projected child welfare programs for calendar year 1980.

The Commonwealth Court concluded that, pursuant to section 704.1 of the Public Welfare Code, appellees were entitled to be paid a percentage of their estimated costs for calendar year 1980. We conclude that the plain language of section 704.1 required DPW to reimburse appellees for a percentage of expenditures actually made for child welfare programs, but did not obligate DPW to pay appellees a percentage of their estimated costs. As appellees have sought to recover $114 million in estimated costs for calendar year 1980, and have not claimed that the $92.245 million appropriated was insufficient to permit DPW to reimburse them for their actual expenditures, which on this record clearly were less than the expenditures which had been estimated, we vacate the decree of the Commonwealth Court and remand with the direction that judgment be entered in favor of appellants.

[ 502 Pa. Page 50]

I

Section 704.1 was added to the Public Welfare Code, Act of June 13, 1967, P.L. 31, § 101 et seq., as amended, 62 P.S. § 101 et seq. (1968 and Supp.1983), by section 2 of the Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 846, 62 P.S. § 704.1 (Supp.1983), to be effective as of January 1, 1978, see Act of July 9, 1976, supra, § 6. Subsection (a) of that section provides that DPW shall "reimburse [counties] for expenditures incurred by them in the performance of their obligation pursuant to this act [(Public Welfare Code)] and the act of December 6, 1972 (P.L. 1464, No. 333), known as the 'Juvenile Act,'" in specified percentages of "cost," "actual cost" and "reasonable cost," depending upon the type of service provided.*fn1 Section 704.1(f) directs DPW to "prescribe the time at, and the form on which [counties] shall submit to [DPW] annual estimates of who will be served and the cost of such service

[ 502 Pa. Page 51]

    under each category of service set forth in subsection (a)." DPW is further directed, "within forty-five days of each calendar quarter, [to] pay fifty percent of [DPW's] share of the [county's] estimated expenditures for that quarter." § 704.1(g).

For fiscal year 1977, the General Assembly appropriated $70 million to DPW "[f]or payment to counties for child welfare programs . . .," General Appropriations Act of 1977 (Act 11-A), Act of August 20, 1977, P.L. 411, 433, more than double the appropriation of $32.689 million for the previous fiscal year, see General Appropriations Act of 1976 (Act 7-A), Act of June 4, 1976, P.L. 1331, 1349.*fn2 DPW adopted

[ 502 Pa. Page 52]

    implementing regulations in December 1977, to take effect on January 1, 1978, the effective date of section 704.1. See 7 Pa.Bull. 4037 (12/31/77). The regulations required counties to submit "service plans and budget estimates" for a calendar year by November 15 of the preceding year. § 5-10A-7, 7 Pa.Bull. at 4047. In setting forth "allowable costs for reimbursement," the regulations expressly stated that reimbursement was subject to "the availability of funds to the Department from the General Assembly." § 5-10K-27, 7 Pa.Bull. at 4053. For fiscal year 1978, the Legislature appropriated $70 million, General Appropriations Act of 1978 (Act 16-A), ...


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