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DONALD BRADSHAW v. SOUTHERN FULTON SCHOOL DISTRICT (06/18/85)

decided: June 18, 1985.

DONALD BRADSHAW, APPELLANT
v.
SOUTHERN FULTON SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fulton County in the case of Southern Fulton School District v. Donald Bradshaw, No. 74 of 1982-C.

COUNSEL

Gregory R. Reed, for appellant.

John McD. Sharpe, Jr., Sharpe, Cleaver, Wenger & Townsend, for appellee.

Judges Craig and Palladino and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Senior Judge Kalish concurs in the result only.

Author: Craig

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 163]

Donald Bradshaw appeals from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas for Fulton County, which granted summary judgment on a complaint the Southern Fulton School District had brought against Bradshaw to collect unpaid occupation taxes. We must decide (1) whether the trial court erred in determining that reduction of the tax rate did not necessitate reenactment of the tax ordinance, (2) if reenactment was required, whether the school district achieved a valid reenactment, and (3) absent a reenactment, what was the status of the tax ordinance during the period in dispute.

In 1968, the school district, pursuant to The Local Tax Enabling Act, Act of December 31, 1965, P.L. 1257, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 6901-6924, enacted an occupation tax resolution imposing a tax on all persons residing in the school district at a 100 mill rate. The school district reduced the rate beginning with the 1971-72 fiscal year to 75 mills and again reduced the

[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 164]

    rate to 60 mills beginning with the 1978-79 fiscal year. The parties have stipulated that both those reductions were effected "without specifically enacting a new occupation tax resolution and without (1) advertisement of its intention to adopt the tax resolution as provided by the Local Tax Enabling Act, 53 P.S. § 6904 (Act 511) or filing of a certified copy of its resolution with the Department of Community Affairs as provided by 53 P.S. 6907." Bradshaw refused to pay occupation taxes for the fiscal years 1969-70 through 1978-79. The parties have stipulated that Bradshaw owes the tax for the first two of those fiscal years; Bradshaw continues to contest his liability only for the subsequent eight tax years, beginning with the purported millage reduction.

The trial court agreed with the school district's contention that section 4 of the Act requires reenactment of a tax only when the taxing authority subsequently increases the tax rate, reasoning that a tax reduction is "immediately and solely beneficial to the taxpayers." The trial court therefore granted summary judgment in favor of the school district.

Section 4 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 6904, provides that "[e]very such tax shall continue in force on a calendar or fiscal year basis, as the case may be, without annual reenactment unless the rate of the tax is subsequently changed." The School district's 1968 resolution mirrored that language, providing that "[s]uch tax shall continue on a school fiscal year basis from year to year without annual reenactment unless the rate of tax is subsequently changed."

We cannot agree with the trial court's position, which the school district does not press strongly here, that we should interpret the statutory term "change" to ...


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