Soon after Memorial Day, the yellow postcards began trickling with the daily mail to Montgomery County Executive James P. Gleason.
Stop the "spending of our hard-earned tax dollars" and place an "immediate five-year freeze on all property tax increases," the identical messages leaded.
This mail effort, admittely low-key, according to this organizers, is the first of several promised tax-payers initiatives aiming to put a ceiling on property hikes in Montgomery County.
However, despite the attention given to the subject recently by the County Council - which last week cut the 1979 property tax by nine cents and his week proposed county charter changes to restrict government spending - the "taxpayers revolt" in the county is still only a relatively small protest.
The Potomac Highlands Citizens Association, the sponsors of the letter campaign to Gleason, hoped for a showering of 20,000 messages on the executive by July 4.
By mid-week, the count in Gleason's office was between 125 and 150 postcards and letters. "They'd better get going if we're to have 20,000 by Monday," said Gleason's aide, Charles Maier.
An even larger project under discussion by the Montgomery County Taxpayers League would call for a property tax referendum on the November ballot to set a tax rate ceiling.
The nine-cent reduction by the County Council was hardly the relief the league's supporters had hoped for. "We need real relief, like 15 or 20 percent," league president Carl Schlotterbeck said after the council's action.
To put the question on the ballot, the league would have to collect 10,000 signatures on petitions by Aug. 21.
County Council President Elizabeth Scull said that while "there is no doubt they'll get the signatures, I don't think it will carry. The people of this county want services, and they are seeing how much damage Proposition 13 has done to California."
The Potomac Highlands Citizens Association, which has 80 members, began its "tax protest" about six months ago. Later it distributed "protest packages" to 400 county citizens associations with postcards and photographs to promote the "protest."
"The county must reduce the burden of constantly escalating real estate taxes, else we cannot afford to live in our own homes," said Helen Hillstrom, the association's president.
"We aren't working that hard to guarantee a huge return of these cards," she said. "We just decided, instead of griping, somebody ought to do something."
As part of the request to Gleason, the postcards ask for a public hearing Sept. 4 for discussion on possible property tax reductions. It also informally designates July 4 as "tax protest day" among some citizens associations in the county