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THOMAS C. CLARK ET AL. v. CHESTER H. TROUTMAN ET AL. (12/15/83)

decided: December 15, 1983.

THOMAS C. CLARK ET AL., APPELLANTS
v.
CHESTER H. TROUTMAN ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Snyder County in the case of Thomas C. Clark, District Attorney, Richard T. Nornhold, Sheriff, Richard G. Schuck, Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts of Snyder County v. Chester T. Troutman, Guy E. Mitterling, and Stanley T. Williams, Commissioners of Snyder County and T. W. Erdley, Treasurer of Snyder County, and Snyder County, No. 991 of 1978.

COUNSEL

Edward G. Mihalik, Jr., for appellants.

Charles J. Ax, Jr., for appellees.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr. and Judges Rogers, Williams, Jr., Craig, MacPhail, Doyle and Barry. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Barry.

Author: Macphail

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 84]

Thomas C. Clark and other elected public officials of Snyder County (Appellants) appeal from the May 4, 1982 order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 17th Judicial District, Snyder County Branch, which sustained the petition to stay execution and the petition to open judgment, of the Commissioners and Treasurer of Snyder County (Appellees). The court of common pleas in its order also dismissed Appellants' action in mandamus, vacated its own order of November 21, 1978, and terminated writs of execution on the 1978 order. Appellants seek a reversal of the trial court's order and a remand so that they may recover amounts unpaid under the judgment entered on the order of the trial court dated November 21, 1978.

The original action in the trial court arose after the legislature passed an amendatory act to the general

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 85]

    salary provisions,*fn1 providing salary increases for elected county officials. Appellants, who were elected to office in 1975, filed an action in mandamus in October 1978, seeking the salary increases provided by Act 223. In November 1978, both parties to the mandamus action submitted a petition for declaratory judgment,*fn2 which resulted in the order of November 21, 1978, that Appellants be paid annual salaries at the rate established by Act 223.*fn3 On July 5, 1979, Appellants filed a

[ 79 Pa. Commw. Page 86]

    praecipe for final judgment pursuant to which the prothonotary entered the following on the docket, "Final judgment is hereby entered".*fn4 Neither the order nor the judgment was appealed. The Appellants were paid the increased salaries from October 20, 1978, until the Appellees reduced the salaries to their original levels for the pay period ending July 6, 1979.

Our Supreme Court, in Bakes v. Snyder, 486 Pa. 80, 403 A.2d 1307 (1979), decided June 29, 1979, held that our Constitution*fn5 prohibits salary increases to an elected public official during his tenure. County officials, such as the Appellants in the instant case, fall within this prohibition. Id.

Following the Bakes decision, the Appellees reduced the Appellants' salaries to their prior levels. Appellants issued a writ of execution on July 31, 1979 for the difference between the salaries due under Act 223 and the salaries actually paid to Appellants for the pay period ending July 6, 1979, the sum of $423.09. Appellees, on September 28, 1979 filed petitions to open judgment and stay ...


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