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UPPER DAUPHIN NATIONAL BANK SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE TO DAUPHIN DEPOSIT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY v. DAUPHIN COUNTY BOARD ASSESSMENT APPEALS (07/06/89)

decided: July 6, 1989.

UPPER DAUPHIN NATIONAL BANK SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE TO DAUPHIN DEPOSIT BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, TRUSTEE UNDER THE WILL OF HOWARD G. FREDERICK CONCERNING REAL ESTATE KNOWN AS THE EVELYN G. FREDERICK HEALTH CENTER AT 46-025-032, APPELLANT,
v.
DAUPHIN COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, APPELLEE



Appeal from Common Pleas Court, Dauphin, County; Honorable Clarence C. Morrison, Judge.

COUNSEL

J. Bruce Walter, Rhoads & Sinon, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Carl G. Wass, Caldwell & Kearns, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Craig, McGinley, (p.), JJ., and Narick, Senior Judge.

Author: Mcginley

[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 258]

Upper Dauphin National Bank, successor to Dauphin Deposit Trust Company, as Trustee under the Will of Howard G. Frederick (Trustee) of the Evelyn G. Frederick Health Center (Health Center), a non-profit ambulatory health care provider, appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County (court of common pleas) on behalf of the Health Center which affirmed a reassessment by the Dauphin County Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) of a portion of the Health Center and denied the Health Center's appeal. We affirm.

The Health Center is an institution of purely public charity, owned and operated by the Evelyn G. Frederick Corporation, a non-profit corporation. Since its commencement of operation in 1976, the Health Center's real estate was declared exempt from real estate taxation. In 1984, the Health Center altered its operations by setting aside approximately one-third of its building space and leasing that space to private health care providers including a dentist, an optometrist and a physical therapist. (Stipulation of Facts, No. 24 and No. 29(a), March 21, 1988, (Stip.) at 7-8.) After a re-examination of the Health Center the Dauphin County Director of Assessment removed approximately one-third of

[ 127 Pa. Commw. Page 259]

    the real estate and improvements from tax exempt status and assessed the one-third portion of real estate and improvements for tax purposes, effective January 1, 1985. The Health Center appealed from the assessment and the Board denied the appeal.*fn1 The Health Center next appealed to the court of common pleas and after a trial de novo, the court of common pleas denied the Health Center's appeal concluding that "the tenant medical service practitioners are the occupiers and users of a portion of the real property and that portion so used is used for their purposes, not for the purposes of the Evelyn G. Frederick Health Center, and is therefore taxable." (Opinion of the court of common pleas, July 29, 1988, at 4.) The Health Center appeals.

Since the court of common pleas made no findings of fact, those facts having been stipulated, our scope of review is limited to whether the Board abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Barnhart v. Zoning Hearing Board, 49 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 481, 411 A.2d 1266 (1980).

The Health Center argues that pursuant to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in Moon Township Appeal (Moon II), 425 Pa. 578, 229 A.2d 890 (1967) it cannot be denied a portion of its real estate tax exemption because it leases a portion of public property to tenants who furnish services which are reasonably necessary to the Health Center's operation. The Board argues that the Health Center's reliance on Moon II is misplaced and that the court of common pleas' decision should be affirmed.

Article 8, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides, ...


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