Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of In Re: Private Tax Sale of Premises 214 Plush Mill Road, Nether Providence Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, No. 86-1264.
Alfred O. Breinig, Jr., for appellant.
James E. Del Bello, Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt. Dissenting Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 354]
The Pennsylvania Realty Abstract Company (appellant) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (trial court) which granted the petitions of Nether Providence Township and the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District to disapprove a private tax sale and directed that the Delaware County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) conduct an auction where the subject property, 214 Plushmill Road, in the Township could be bid upon by the appellant and Marshall DiGiacomo with a minimum bid of $33,000.
The trial court held a hearing and determined that the Bureau had advertised the subject premises at an upset price of $26,647.83. At the sale, however, the Bureau erroneously announced the sale price to be $11,313. The appellant was the only party bidding and it bid the announced price. The following day the Bureau discovered its error and notified the appellant that its bid could not be accepted because it was insufficient to meet the certified and advertised upset price. The Bureau's solicitor then informed the appellant that the property would have to be sold as a private offering and
[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 355]
that the appellant was free to negotiate with the respective taxing districts for the best price it could get. Negotiations commenced and the appellant offered the taxing district $20,800. Mr. DiGiacomo then made an offer of $28,052; the appellant countered with a bid $1.00 higher. But the Bureau had actually notified the taxing districts that the property would be sold to the appellant for $20,800 unless objections were filed. The notice that the property would be sold for $20,800 caused the taxing districts to object, and the trial court was asked to determine the validity of the upset sale. It concluded that the sale was invalid and entered an order directing that the property be sold at private auction as previously described. It is that order which is now before us for review.
Before us, the appellant alleges two grounds for error. First, it asserts that where the Bureau never exposed the property to an upset sale at the advertised price, $26,647.83, there has not been an exposure to public sale as contemplated by Section 613 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5860.613.*fn1 The appellant
[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 356]
argues, therefore, that the proper remedy is to hold another public sale where the property is exposed at the correct price. The appellant asserts that it was within the intendment of the Legislature that property be exposed at the correct price to at least one public sale so as to best insure open competitive bidding and the highest possible return to the taxing districts. Alternatively, the appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering a private auction inasmuch as that remedy is not specifically set forth in the Law. Further, it contends that the Legislature did not provide for private auctions but instead created a system whereby the taxing district may object to a ...