Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of Appeal of the Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (Trustees Philadelphia Protestant Episcopal City Mission of Pennsylvania) from the Real Estate Assessment and Exemption Denial for the year 1979, Nos. 76-17761, 77-20751, 78-16789 and 79-21547.
Michael J. O'Donoghue, with him, Thomas M. Garrity and Charles Potash, Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone, Craig & Garrity, for appellants.
William C. Bullitt, Drinker, Biddle & Reath, Of Counsel: Anthony J. Giangiulio and Edwin S. Heins, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 411]
In these consolidated appeals, the Springfield Township and Springfield Township School District (Appellant) appeal here an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which sustained the tax exemption claim of Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of Pennsylvania (Appellee) with respect to its Springfield Retirement Residence (Springfield).*fn1 We affirm.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 412]
Appellee, a non-profit corporation, owns and operates Springfield. Springfield consists of 122 residential apartments as well as a common kitchen, laundromat, meeting rooms, chapel, and other facilities for use by the residents. Springfield also houses a fully accredited nursing facility, doctor's office and examining room. Additional medical care is furnished by All Saints Hospital, a medical facility operated by Appellee on the same real estate as Springfield is situate, and Chestnut Hill Hospital.
To be eligible for admission into Springfield, the applicant must be at least 65 years of age and able to take care of his or her personal needs (i.e., bathing, dressing) with exceptions made for those who are blind, deaf or lame. Proof of this "independence" must be furnished in the form of a physician's report. The applicant is also required to submit a detailed financial statement. No one may be denied admission because of race, color, creed or national origin; nor is anyone refused admission because of the financial status of his or her assets.
Each resident of Springfield is charged an initial entrance fee.*fn2 Additionally, residents are subject to a monthly charge for care and service.*fn3 Each resident
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 413]
signs a "life care" contract with Springfield which provides that a resident will be charged only the monthly fee, no matter what level of care the resident requires. This "Residence and Care Agreement" also provides that it is the "policy [of Springfield] that within the limits of [its] ability to furnish assistance, a resident shall not be dismissed nor his residence agreement terminated solely because of the resident's financial inability to continue to pay the monthly rent." This policy is subject to certain conditions, among them the right of Springfield to terminate the agreement in lieu of subsidization for failure to meet monthly charges.*fn4
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 414]
The basis for Appellee's claim of tax exemption is Section 204(a)(3) of The General County Assessment Law (Law), Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-204(a)(3), which provides in pertinent part that:
(a) The following property shall be exempt from all county, borough, town, township, road, ...