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Millett v. Frohmiller

Supreme Court of Arizona

January 5, 1948

MILLETT
v.
FROHMILLER

Page 458

Appeal from Superior Court, Maricopa County; Walter J. Thalheimer, Judge.

Judgment affirmed.

Jennings, Strouss, Salmon & Trask, J. A. Riggins, Jr. and Henry S. Stevens, all of Phoenix, for appellant.

John L. Sullivan, Atty. Gen., and John W. Rood, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Udall, Justice. Stanford, C. J., and LaPrade, J., concur.

OPINION

Udall, Justice.

Page 459

[66 Ariz. 341] This is an action for a declaratory judgment to determine the question as to whether any funds are available for the payment of plaintiff's claim for services rendered to the Arizona Corporation Commission (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) in the matter of a proposed rate survey to be conducted by it.

The facts necessary to a determination of the matter are as follows: Plaintiff-appellant, a certified public accountant engaged in practice in Phoenix, Maricopa, County, Arizona, on April 21, 1947, entered into a contract with the Commission to make an examination of certain public service corporations operating in Arizona. The date to be thus procured by plaintiff and his assistants was to be used by the Commission in connection with the performance of the duties imposed on it under Art. XV, Sec. 3 of the Constitution of Arizona, i. e., making classifications, rates, and charges of public utilities. Plaintiff worked one day (May 5, 1947) and then submitted a claim for $ 35 to the defendant-appellee as State Auditor for said services against: (1) the money appropriated under Chapter 11, Laws of the First Special Session, Seventeenth Legislature, hereinafter referred to as Ch. 11, (2) the money authorized to be collected under Chapter 79, Regular Session, Eighteenth Legislature, hereinafter referred to as Ch. 79, and (3) the general fund. Defendant rejected each of these claims as not properly payable out of the respective funds mentioned, whereupon this suit was brought. The lower court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and judgment was entered for defendant dismissing plaintiff's complaint. From this judgment appeal was taken. The gist of plaintiff's assignments of error and propositions of law is embodied in our discussion of each phase of the case.

The first fund which plaintiff believes is available for the payment of his claim is that created by Ch. 11. Briefly, this Act appropriates $ 50,000 to be used by the Commission to have a survey conducted to determine the fair value of the property of the gas and electric public service corporations of the State in order to establish a proper base for rate-making purposes. [66 Ariz. 342] It further provides that the Corporation Commission should have a survey made employing therefor the Federal Power Commission in accordance with the terms of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C.A. § 791a et seq., and Sec. 4 of the law states that: "The sum of fifty thousand dollars is appropriated to the corporation commission, for the payment of the expenses of the federal power commission, including but not limited to the salaries of personnel and travel expenses, in cooperation with the corporation commission in making the property investigation authorized by this act." (Emphasis supplied.)

Plaintiff, though admittedly not connected in any way with the Federal Power Commission, contends that this fund is available to him for payment of his claim for the reason that he believes that part, and that part only, of Ch. 11 which limits the use of the fund to payment of expenses of the Federal Power Commission is unconstitutional.

His argument concerning the unconstitutionality of this limitation is based upon Section 3, Article XV of the Constitution of the State of Arizona which gives "full power" to the Commission to "prescribe * * * just and reasonable rates and charges to be made and collected, by public service corporations * * *." Plaintiff's theory is that our Constitution in giving "full power" to the Commission in this regard, also, by necessary implication, gives the Commission complete discretion over the manner and method by which this power should be exercised. Therefore, any legislative attempt to direct by whom such a survey shall be made (such as was done in Ch. 11 in confining the ...


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