Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann, DRIVE-IN

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; WESTHUES
PartiesAIRWAYTHEATRE CO., Inc., a corporation, St. Louis Amusement Co., a corporation, and Herbert P. Hartstein, doing business as Skyline Drive-In Theatre, Appellants, v. CITY OF ST. ANN, a municipal corporation, Clarence G. Tiemeyer, Mayor of the City of St. Ann, and Maurice H. McCue, Chief of Police and Collector of the City of St. Ann, Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. 48002,DRIVE-IN
Decision Date12 March 1962

Page 858

354 S.W.2d 858
AIRWAY DRIVE-IN THEATRE CO., Inc., a corporation, St. Louis
Amusement Co., a corporation, and Herbert P.
Hartstein, doing business as Skyline
Drive-In Theatre, Appellants,
v.
CITY OF ST. ANN, a municipal corporation, Clarence G.
Tiemeyer, Mayor of the City of St. Ann, and
Maurice H. McCue, Chief of Police and
Collector of the City of St.
Ann, Respondents.
No. 48002.
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
March 12, 1962.

Page 859

Flynn, Parker & Badaracco, Norman C. Parker, St. Louis, for appellants.

William R. Dorsey, Clayton, for respondents.

STOCKARD, Commissioner.

Appellants seek a declaratory judgment declaring unconstitutional and void that portion of Ordinance No. 288 of the City of St. Ann which purports to levy an annual license tax on drive-in theaters of $1.50 per speaker. The trial court dismissed their petition and they have appealed contending, as they did in the trial court, that the challenged portion of the ordinance violates Section 3, Article X of the Constitution of Missouri, V.A.M.S., and also the due process and equal protection clauses of both the Missouri and Federal Constitutions.

Ordinance No. 288, which became effective January 1, 1959, levies an annual license tax in varying amounts upon 95 specifically designated classifications of business, and provides that all other businesses should be taxed on an annual basis at the rate of seventy-five cents for each one thousand dollars of the first million dollars of gross sales, and one dollar for each one thousand dollars of gross sales thereafter with a minimum tax of $25.00. The tax on the specifically designated classifications varies from $5.00 to $250.00 for those businesses taxed on a flat rate of so much per year. The challenged tax is listed as follows: 'Theaters, drive-in, per speaker per year $1.50.' There is no separate classification for 'theaters,' but there is a separate classification for 'Opera houses or picture shows, indoor, per year $50.'

Drive-in theaters are arranged so that patrons drive in the theater area and watch the moving picture show while seated in their automobiles. A separate speaker is provided for each automobile. The drivein theater of one of the appellants also has a substantial number of seats arranged so that persons may leave their automobile or come to the area without an automobile and watch the picture show. Airway Drive-In Theatre has 925 in-car speakers on which the annual tax under Ordinance No. 288 is $1,387.50; Skyline Drive-In Theatre has 591 in-car speakers on which the annual tax is $886.50; and St. Ann Drive-In Theatre, operated by Appellant St. Louis Amusement Co., has 1,040 in-car speakers for which the annual tax is $1,560.00. We note that subsequent to the filing of this action Skyline Drive-In Theatre has terminated its operations in the City of St. Ann.

During 1959 there were twenty-four businesses which paid a license tax based on gross sales. The largest was $1,006.98 paid by a super-market, and to warrant this tax its annual gross sales necessarily exceeded $1,250,000. The gross receipts of

Page 860

appellants in 1958 from admissions and from concessions was as follows: Airway Drive-In Theatre--$352,505; Skyline Drive-In Theatre--$96,071; and St. Ann Drive-In Theatre--$257,335. In addition to the license tax under Ordinance No. 288 and the regular real and personal property taxes, appellants paid to the City of St. Ann in 1958 'under agreement for police direction of traffic and other police services' the following amounts: Airway Drive-In Theatre--$4,850; Skyline Drive-In In Theatre--$1,410; and St. Ann Drive-In Theatre--$3,570. These payments would be approximately the same each year for each theater except the one which has terminated its business in the city.

There appears to be no question, at least by the parties, but that Ordinance No. 288 is a revenue measure as distinguished from a regulatory measure, and that as such it is subject to the provisions of Section 3, Article X, Constitution of Missouri which provides that 'Taxes * * * shall be uniform upon the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.' See City of Cape Girardeau v. Fred A. Groves Motor Co., 346 Mo. 762, 142 S.W.2d 1040; City of St. Charles ex rel. Palmer v. Schulte, 305 Mo. 124, 264 S.W. 654. Appellants contend that the ordinance violates the above constitutional provision because the 'separation of indoor and outdoor theaters is an arbitrary and unreasonable classification thereby destroying the required uniformity of application of the tax.' They also contend that the tax on drive-in theaters is 'excessive and discriminatory in comparison with...

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8 practice notes
  • City of Aurora v. Spectra Commc'ns Grp., LLC, No. SC 96276
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 24, 2019
    ...justification" appears to have originated in a tax case more than 50 years ago. In Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann , 354 S.W.2d 858, 859 (Mo. banc 1962), this Court analyzed an annual license tax of $1.50 per speaker for drive-in theaters, compared with a flat tax rate of $50......
  • Capitol Cablevision Corp. v. Hardesty, No. 15062
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 18, 1981
    ...Beauty Built Construction Corp. v. City of Warren, 375 Mich. 229, 134 N.W.2d 214 (1965); Airway Drive-in Theater Co. v. City of St. Ann, 354 S.W.2d 858 (Mo.1962); Opinion of the Justices, 118 N.H. 343, 386 A.2d 1273 (1978); Gilbert v. Town of Irvington, 20 N.J. 432, 12 A.2d 114 (1956); Comm......
  • Associated Industries of Missouri v. State Tax Com'n of Missouri, No. 68671
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...passengers or more held invalid as violating uniformity clause, Mo. Const. art. 10, § 3); Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann, 354 S.W.2d 858 (Mo. banc 1962) (portion of ordinance levying annual license tax on drive-in theaters at $1.50 per speaker and on other motion picture the......
  • Barhorst v. City of St. Louis, No. 52268
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 11, 1967
    ...City Water Co. v. City of Springfield, 353 Mo. 445, 182 S.W.2d 613, 617; Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann, (Mo.Sup.banc) 354 S.W.2d 858, 860. The city, for example, could decide that the earnings tax would apply only to taxpayers with earnings or net profits above $50, althoug......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • City of Aurora v. Spectra Commc'ns Grp., LLC, No. SC 96276
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 24, 2019
    ...justification" appears to have originated in a tax case more than 50 years ago. In Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann , 354 S.W.2d 858, 859 (Mo. banc 1962), this Court analyzed an annual license tax of $1.50 per speaker for drive-in theaters, compared with a flat tax rate of $50......
  • Capitol Cablevision Corp. v. Hardesty, No. 15062
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • December 18, 1981
    ...Beauty Built Construction Corp. v. City of Warren, 375 Mich. 229, 134 N.W.2d 214 (1965); Airway Drive-in Theater Co. v. City of St. Ann, 354 S.W.2d 858 (Mo.1962); Opinion of the Justices, 118 N.H. 343, 386 A.2d 1273 (1978); Gilbert v. Town of Irvington, 20 N.J. 432, 12 A.2d 114 (1956); Comm......
  • Associated Industries of Missouri v. State Tax Com'n of Missouri, No. 68671
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 8, 1987
    ...passengers or more held invalid as violating uniformity clause, Mo. Const. art. 10, § 3); Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann, 354 S.W.2d 858 (Mo. banc 1962) (portion of ordinance levying annual license tax on drive-in theaters at $1.50 per speaker and on other motion picture the......
  • Barhorst v. City of St. Louis, No. 52268
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 11, 1967
    ...City Water Co. v. City of Springfield, 353 Mo. 445, 182 S.W.2d 613, 617; Airway Drive-In Theatre Co. v. City of St. Ann, (Mo.Sup.banc) 354 S.W.2d 858, 860. The city, for example, could decide that the earnings tax would apply only to taxpayers with earnings or net profits above $50, althoug......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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