Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Berks County; Honorable Frederick Edenharter, SEN. JUDGE.
Alan S. Readinger, Esq., Reading, Pennsylvania, FOR APPELLANT.
James M. Lillis, Esq., Reading, Pennsylvania, FOR READING SCHOOL DISTRICT.
Louis R. Rizzuto, Esq., Reading, Pennsylvania, FOR BOARD OF ASSESSMENT, ET AL.
Before: Honorable Francis A. Barry, Judge, Honorable James Gardner Colins, Judge (p.), Honorable Jacob Kalish, Senior Judge
Opinion BY JUDGE JAMES GARDNER COLINS
Concern-Professional Services for Children and Youth (Concern) appeals from two orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County dated June 30, 1988, which dismissed Concern's appeal from the Berks County Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes' (Board) denial of Concern's applications for exemption from the payment of real property taxes.
Concern is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation which engages in foster care programs, child placement programs, counseling and other child welfare activities. Concern owns two parcels of property, situate at 231 West Windsor Street, Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania (Reading facility)*fn1 and R.D.1, Lenhartsville, Greenwich Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania (Lenhartsville facility).
The Reading facility is being utilized as part of the community life skills program at Concern, which is a Program designed to provide services to sixteen and seventeen year old children who are without family resources and who require assistance in community life skills in order to prepare those children to move out into society as self-supporting adults. The Lenhartsville facility offers short-term foster care for girls until more permanent placement can be located elsewhere. These properties are the subject of the instant appeals, which have been consolidated for disposition by this Court.
On September 14, 1987, Concern filed applications with the Board for the exemption of said properties from the payment of real property taxes. The Board denied the applications for exemption. Concern appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, and the court, by two orders dated June 30, 1988, dismissed the appeals. Concern now appeals to this Court.
The sole issue presented is whether or not Concern is a purely public charity and, therefore, entitled to an exemption from the payment of real property taxes. As provided in Section 201 of The General County Assessment Law (Law), Act of May 22, 1933, P.L. 853, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5020-201, all real estate situate within the Commonwealth is subject to taxation. In order to be exempt from taxation, the owner of real property must prove that the property meets the stringent standards necessary to fit within one of the narrow exceptions outlined in Section 204(a)(3) of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5020-204(a)(3).*fn2 That section provides in pertinent part:
(a) [t]he following property shall be exempt from all county, city, borough, town, township, road, poor and school tax, to wit:
(3) All hospitals, universities, colleges, seminaries, academies, associations and institutions of learning, benevolence, or charity, . . . with the grounds thereto annexed and necessary for the occupancy and enjoyment of the same, founded, endowed, and maintained by public or private charity: Provided, That the entire revenue derived by the same be applied to the support and to increase the efficiency and facilities ...