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JAMES RACHAEL v. FOREST HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT (01/09/86)

decided: January 9, 1986.

JAMES RACHAEL, APPELLANT
v.
FOREST HILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County in case of James Rachael v. Forest Hills School District, No. 1983-465, Argument No. 5089, dated September 14, 1984.

COUNSEL

J. Douglas Wolfe, for appellant.

Gilbert E. Caroff, for appellee.

Judges MacPhail and Doyle, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 131]

James Rachael (Appellant) here appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County denying his post-trial motions which took exception to the dismissal of his complaint. We affirm.

Appellant was elected Tax Collector for Adams Township, Cambria County in the municipal election of November, 1981. On February 22, 1983, Appellant filed a civil action in assumpsit and equity challenging the validity of a resolution passed on February 11, 1981 by the Forest Hills School District (District) that

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 132]

    set the compensation to be paid to its tax collectors. A non-jury trial was held on February 14, 1984. On May 2, 1984, the trial court found in favor of the District and dismissed Appellant's complaint. Appellant then filed exceptions to the trial court's opinion. These exceptions were denied.

The resolution in question reads as follows:

Forest Hills School District

Real Estate Tax Collectors Commission Effective July 1, 1982

A 0.5% commission on all real estate duplicates of $19,500,000 or more assessed valuation.

A 1.0% commission on all real estate duplicates of $16,500,000 to $19,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 1.5% commission on all real estate duplicates of $13,500,000 to $16,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 2.0% commission on all real estate duplicates of $10,500,000 to $13,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 2.5% commission on all real estate duplicates of $7,500,000 to $10,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 3.0% commission on all real estate duplicates of $4,500,000 to $7,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 3.5% commission on all real estate duplicates of $1,500,000 to $4,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 4.0% commission on all real estate duplicates of $1,000,000 to $1,499,999 assessed valuation.

A 4.5% commission on all real estate duplicates of $500,000 to $999,999 assessed valuation.

A 5.0% commission on all real estate duplicates of less than $499,999 assessed valuation.

[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 133]

Three of Appellant's exceptions to the trial court's dismissal of his complaint dealt directly with the interpretation of the resolution by the District. The District interprets the resolution on a flat-rate basis, i.e., the commission rate is calculated by taking the total assessment of real estate in any taxing district, finding the bracket in the resolution where that assessment falls and applying the corresponding commission rate to all tax collections in that particular district. Appellant avers that the resolution should be interpreted to yield a progressive commission rate. Appellant's interpretation is best represented by a table he includes in his brief which shows what would happen under his theory utilizing the current 63.1 millage rate:

Taxes Collected Commission Payable on

     on 63.1 Millage ...


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