New York ex rel. Brooklyn City Railroad Company v. State Board of Tax Commissioners
This case, like the preceding, involves the special franchise tax law of New York. The facts are these: On December 22, 1853, the relator was authorized by the city of Brooklyn to construct, maintain, and operate street surface railroads upon specified streets, and required to enter into a good and sufficient bond conditioned for the faithful performance of all the terms and stipulations in the resolutions granting the authority. On December 30 of that year a bond in the sum of $200,000 was duly executed by the relator, and has ever since been kept in force. The terms and stipulations as to the construction and operation of the railroad need not be mentioned. The resolutions contained these further porvisions:
'The rates of fare for each passenger and the license fee for each car to be paid annually into the city treasury shall be on the respective lines above mentioned:
'1. Furnam street route, fare not to exceed 5 cents, license fee, $50. 2. Court street route, fare not to exceed 4 cents, license fee, $20. 3. Powers street route, fare not to exceed 5 cents, license fee, $20. 4. Flatbush avenue route, fare not to exceed 5 cents, license fee, $20. 5. Fulton avenue route, fare not to exceed 4 cents, license fee, $20. 6. Myrtle avenue route, fare not to exceed 4 cents, license fee, $20. 7. Sands street route, fare not to exceed 5 cents, license fee, $10. 8. Front street route, fare not to exceed 5 cents, license fee, $10.'
This action of the city of Brooklyn was validated by the state legislature. Other contracts were made by the city of Brooklyn with other companies. Those companies were subsequently consolidated with the relator, which, on the 1st of January, 1900, held forty-five similar contracts with the municipalities for the construction, maintenance, and operation of street surface railroads in the present boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Some of these contracts required the annual payment of a certain percentage of the gross receipts. Subsequently, under due legislative authority, the contract arrangements between the relator and the city were modified in respect to the amount of the annual license fee. The statute authorizing the modification contains this clause:
'The said license fees shall be taken in full satisfaction for the use of the streets or avenues, but the same shall not release said company from any obligations required by law to keep such streets or avenues, or any part thereof, in repair, which said obligations and the contracts, laws, or ordinances creating and enforcing the same, are hereby continued in full force and operation.'
Messrs. Charles A. Collin and William F. Sheehan for plaintiff in error.
Messrs. Julius M. Mayer and Louis Marshall for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court: