Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of York County in the case of Doe-Spun, Inc. v. J. W. C. Morgan, Jr., William R. Baughman and Kenneth M. Wallick, Jr., Board of Assessment Appeals, County of York, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 83-S-4320, and in the case of Keystone Weaving Mills, Inc., Successor in Title to El Jay Fabrics, Inc. v. J. W. C. Morgan, Jr., William R. Baughman and Kenneth M. Wallick, Jr., Board of Assessment Appeals, County of York, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 83-S-4336.
Kenneth J. Sparler, Anstine and Anstine, for appellants.
Karen L. Semmelman, Hoffmeyer & Semmelman, for appellees.
Judges Craig and Doyle, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 449]
Before us are the consolidated appeals of two taxpayers, Doe-Spun, Inc. and Keystone Weaving Mills, Inc. (Appellants), from the decision of the York County Court of Common Pleas which dismissed Appellants' tax assessment appeals.
Appellants instituted separate tax assessment appeals with the York County Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) challenging the 1983 tax year assessment against their respective properties. The Board denied both appeals on November 15, 1983. On December 14, 1983, each Appellant appealed the Board's decision by filing a praecipe for writ of summons with the York County Prothonotary's office. The writs stated the following:
You are hereby notified that . . . the plaintiff, has have [sic] commenced an action in tax assessment appeal against which you are required to defend.
On January 10, 1984, Appellants filed their respective petitions for appeal, which set forth the specific grounds of their appeals.
Thereafter the Board and the County of York (Appellees) filed motions to dismiss, arguing that Appellants, by filing a praecipe for writ of summons, failed to properly commence their tax assessment appeals and that their subsequently filed petitions for appeal were filed beyond the thirty day limitation period set forth in Section 5571 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S. § 5571.
The trial court consolidated the motions to dismiss, and after argument, granted the motions and dismissed Appellants' appeals. While acknowledging Appellants' contention that neither statute nor local rule provided any guidance in the manner in which to institute a tax assessment appeal, the trial court nonetheless reasoned that a praecipe for a writ of summons
[ 93 Pa. Commw. Page 450]
could not be considered an "appeal" under applicable law defining that term. Since the praecipes were the only document filed within the thirty day appeal period specified by Section 5571 of the Judicial Code, the court ...