The Prince George's County Council agreed this week to a WMATA formula that would require the county to pay $1.044 million in subsidies for Metrorail within the next fiscal year.
Agreement came only after council member Francis B. Francois added a corollary to the proposal telling WMATA that "future subsidy payments will not be paid by the (county) property tax. If no other sources of revenue are available before 1979, Prince George's will not guarantee future payments under this letter."
The council said it was reluctant to approve the subsidy formula because of the added tax burden it would bring to the county.
Prince George's County will have to pay 10.76 per cent of the total jurisdictional subsidy (Virginia, Maryland, District) in 1978, and 14.34 per cent in 1979 and 14.76 per cent in 1980. It is estimated that the county subsidy payments could rise as high as $8 million by 1980.
"We can't just sit here and say we are going to squeeze $8 million out of the budget for this in three years," added council member Parris N. Glendening.
The operating cost subsidy formula was produced after the WMATA board considered several alternatives. One-third of the allocation formula, which will affect all Metrorail jurisdictions, is based on the number of stations in operation within each county, one-third is an average of urbanized population and population density, and one-third is based on the number of Metrorail passengers residing in each area.
Francois took an opposing view on the Metro subsidy. "I believe strongly in mass transportation. We have to agree to the allocation formula so Metro will run, period. We should be willing to take the initiative to go out and find an alternative for funding."
The council, which has just finished lengthy budget sessions, was not eager to add more to their burden as future tax leviers. Glendening said the council would have to look to the federal highway trust or to other state and federal aid sources for future Metro funding.
The council also approved a new Metro fare structure that will become effective July 1. It requires a peak fare of 40 cents for the first three miles travelled, with 7.5 cents per mile thereafter; off-peak fares of 40 cents for the first three miles, with 3.75 cents per mile thereafter; an equalization of rail fares from the Rosslyn and Pentagon stations; and a 50 per cent discount on the full bus fare in Maryland and the District with advance-pay passes.
The council endorsed the proposal because, they said in a letter to WMATA chairman Francis W. White, "it is expected require less in terms of total additional bus-rail subsidy." Some members also said they thought it would not discourage as many riders as other fare proposals.
Meanwhile, the qualifications for the executive director of the Landlord-Tenant Commission have changed because of legislation passed this week by the council. The County Executive - proposed legislation was amended to reinstitute the requirement that the director be an attorney who has at least three years of administrative law or the equivalent.
Councilman Gerard T. McDonough expressed concern that someone with the legislated qualifications would not be interested in a job with a pay scale of approximately $20,000. "Who's going to want to do it?" he added.
In other action the council passed a bill authorizing the appointment of animal control wardens to investigate cases of animal cruelty in the county.