In an effort to find an administrative solution to the controversial operation of its fire services, the Montgomery County Council has established an ad hoc committee to produce options be Feb. 15.
In doing so, the council this week temporarily set aside a recent recommendation by County Executive James P. Gleason that fire service administration be consolidated under a single body. Gleason has complained that the "loose centralization" of the system, which combines career and volunteer departments, has produced conflicting rules of conduct and purchasing procedures, among other difficulties, from station to station.
Any consolidation of fire services has been vigorously opposed by the volunteer units, which, although their numbers are diminishing, have been able to maintain autonomy over their operations.
The council resolution attempts to allow all sides to iron out a compromise throught the committee, whose members will include delegations from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, the County Fire Board, union and nonunion firemen, a County Council member and a staff coordinator.
Gleason's bill some firefighters have complained, resulted from a task force whose job was "rushed".
In other matters, the council approved the county's first mobile home development, which covers on Rte. 355 in Germantown. Unlike the traditional "trailer parks," this 366-unit complex is designed as a planned community and is laid out like a typical subdivisions.
Its chief advantage, according to planning board commissioners and council members who have backed the idea, is that it provides relatively low-cost housing. Developer Maurice Berk has said the units would cost $31,000 to $35,000, far below the $70,000 average house price in the county.
Berk's application was the first under the mobile home development category, which was approved by the council in 1974. But many developers had complained that the law was too strict to encourage its use. In fact, Berk's plan was turned down by the planning board two years ago.
In a tax matter, council member Elizabeth Scull reminded homeowners who are receiving assessment notices that they may be eligible for a tax credit if their assessment has gone up more than 15 percent. While this tax relief, which was granted by the 1978 General Assembly, will be calculated on bills mailed next July, it may have incorrectly been applied to some current assessment notices, she said. Individuals should contact the Department of Revenue to apply for the tax credit.
Council member Dickran Hovsepian, who faces heart surgery next week, has informed the council he will not be available for duties for the rest of his term. The council did not ask for his resignation because they would be faced with appointing a caretaker successor close to the election.