The opinion of the court was delivered by: James R. Kelley, Senior Judge
Argued: September 13, 2011
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Judge HONORABLE JAMES R. KELLEY, Senior Judge
OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE KELLEY
Robert C. Cryan (EA Media) (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Cryan/EA Media") appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of the Seventeenth Judicial District, Snyder County Branch (trial court) granting in part and denying in part Cryan/EA Media's motion for post-trial relief. *fn1 We affirm in part and vacate in part.
The following two issues presented in this appeal are ones of first impression:
1. Whether the trial court erred in affirming the decision of the Snyder County Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) that does not allow an exemption from taxation for EA Media's wind energy generating tower and equipment as provided for pursuant to Section 201(a.1) of The Fourth to Eighth County Assessment Law (Assessment Law), Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, as amended, 72 P.S. §5453.201(a.1); *fn2 and
2. Whether the trial court erred in holding that the Board may charge a fee for an assessment appeal.
The parties stipulated to the following facts. Cryan owns agricultural real property situated on Shade Mountain Road, Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania 17842, which is also known as 643 Mount Pisgah Alter Road, Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania 17842 (Property). Cryan had owned the Property with his wife, Doris Cryan, who is now deceased. Cryan and his wife entered into a lease agreement with EA Media which constructed a 190 foot internet providing tower on the Property. A wind generation device is affixed to the internet tower.
The wind generation device supplies electricity for the operation of the tower's internet provider service. There is no connection to the electrical power grid from the tower and no electricity is sold on the electrical power grid as a result of the wind generation device or tower. Cryan/EA Media paid approximately $8,400 for the materials involved in the construction of the tower. Cryan/EA Media paid approximately $495 for the wind generation device installed on the tower.
On June 20, 2007, the Board issued a notice of assessment change to Cryan as record owner of the Property. On August 28, 2009, Cryan and EA Media, as lessee, filed an appeal of the Board's assessment. The Board charges a processing fee of $75 for commercial property assessment appeals and $10 for residential property assessment appeals. EA Media paid a $75 fee for the appeal.
On October 8, 2009, a hearing was held on the appeal and by decision of October 12, 2009, the Board reduced the assessment amount and notified Cryan/EA Media via mail. On November 4, 2009, Cryan/EA Media filed a petition for appeal with the trial court to which the Board filed a response on December 3, 2009.
After discovery, the parties filed a stipulation of facts with the trial court on November 1, 2010. A hearing was held before the trial court on November 4, 2010, and the parties submitted briefs. The parties agree that the proper assessed value of the improved portion of the Property is $2,130.
By order of December 22, 2010, the trial court affirmed the Board's assessment of the Property; however, the trial court mistakenly stated that the agreed upon assessed value of the Property was $2,300. In affirming the Board's assessment, the trial court found that "[t]he sole purpose of the tower located on the Property in question is as a communications device -- to provide internet service -- and not as a wind energy generation device." Trial Court Op. at 6.
With respect to the Board's authority to charge a fee for an assessment appeal, the trial court concluded that the general authority granted in Section 508 of The Second Class County Code, Act of July 28, 1953, P.L. 723, as amended, 16 P.S. §3508, *fn3 permitted the Snyder County Board of Commissioners to implement a fee for the processing of assessment appeals. The trial court found that the Commissioners approved a fee schedule that included the fee for the processing of assessment appeals, which fee is received and collected by the County Chief Tax Assessor and deposited into the Snyder County Treasury pursuant to Section 1601 of The County Code, Act of August 9, 1955, P.L. 323, as amended, 16 P.S. §1601. Section 1601 specifies that all fees received by a county officer legally authorized to charge or receive the fee belong to the county. ...