Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, in the case of Paul J. Scally v. Falls Township, No. 86-2678-12-4.
Richard S. Hoffman, for appellant.
David I. Grunfeld, for appellee.
Judges Craig, Doyle, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 57]
This is an appeal by Falls Township (Township) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, which granted Paul J. Scally damages for breach of contract.
In February, 1986, Scally filed suit against the Township alleging breach of an employment contract. The Township had terminated its contract with Scally, alleging that its action had been ultra vires. After a hearing before the common pleas court, the court held in favor of Scally and awarded him damages in the amount of $13,625 plus interest. Following denial of its motion for post-trial relief, the Township brought this appeal.
[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 58]
On May 29, 1985, Scally was employed by the Township under an oral employment agreement as an environmental protection officer. His duty was primarily to inspect the Township's landfills in order to protect the public from environmental hazards. The initial terms of his employment required that he become a resident of the Township within one year after his appointment. After working for about six months, Scally expressed to the Township manager his desire to have some job security before he committed himself to move to the Township. Thereupon, a written three year employment agreement was prepared by the Township manager and the Township solicitor and was approved by the outgoing Board of Supervisors on December 12, 1985 and signed by both the Township and Scally. The supervisors' terms ended one month later, January 6, 1986.
On or about February 11, 1986, Scally was notified by the Township that his employment was being terminated effective February 25, 1986. The Township believed that Scally was employed in a governmental function, and that it was ultra vires for the outgoing Board of Supervisors to enter into a contract that bound the incoming Board. Almost immediately thereafter, Scally secured new employment and brought the instant suit to recover for the losses occasioned by the alleged breach of contract.
The issue which this Court must decide is whether a three-year contract entered into between Scally and a previous Board of Supervisors of the Township, is valid and binding upon the present Board of Supervisors.*fn1
[ 115 Pa. Commw. Page 59]
Central to a resolution of this issue is a determination of whether Scally's employment is a proprietary function or a governmental function, and in order to make this determination, it is necessary to define the conceptual difference between these functions.*fn2 A governmental function is performed for public purposes exclusively, and belongs to the corporate body in its public, political or municipal character. Moore v. Luzerne County, 262 Pa. 216, 105 A. 94 (1918). If Scally was performing a governmental function, then, absent a statute to the contrary, the outgoing Board of Supervisors had no authority to tie the hands of its successors. Scott v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, 402 Pa. 151, 166 A.2d 278 (1960). Conversely, a proprietary function is for ...