The head of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League yesterday accused organized opponents of TRIM (Tax Relief In Montgomery) of using "scare tactics" in an effort to defeat the tax-cutting charter amendment at referendum Nov. 7.
Karl Schlotterback asserted at a press conference thatthe government employes, teachers, organized labor, senior citizens and civil rights groups that make up TRIM's opposition, called the Fair Share Coalition, are "those who have been the chief beneficiaries of the (Montgomery County) Council's largesse."
He also described the coalitioN's co-chariman, former school board president Thomas Israel and former County Council president Norman Christeller, as "top-level bureaucrats - left-overs from the Mandelera."
The coalition's deirector, state AFLCIO vice Chairman Michael Gildea, immediately labeled Schlotterbeck's remarks "unfounded sensationalism." Neither Israel nor Christeller, he noted, was a member of Gov. Marvin Mandel's administration. They served in county-level positions during some of Mandel's term as governor.
The debate over TRIM, which proposes to roll back property tax rates value, has been increasingly vitoriolic as election day approaches.
Earlier this week, Schlotterback protested to school officials what he called "illegal propagandizing" against TRIM by the school administration.
His statements followed the September mailing of the school administration's newsletter "Learning" to all county households and the Council of PTS's vote to oppose ballot Question E, which contains the TRIM proposal.
Schlotterback also said teachers at several county schools were wearing anti-Question E buttons in the classroom and "frightening students by predicting dire results of Question E."
The Montgomery County Education Association has provided staff assistance for the coalition's media blitz against Question E.
School board spokesman Kenneth Muir said yesterday that in response to "third-and-fourth-hand allegations" he had reminded principals this week of the school policy prohibiting "political activity or advocacy during working hours." But court decisions have upheld teachers rights to wear political buttons, he said.
Muir said that nowhere in the Learning article did the school administration "recommend how to vote" on Question E or Question D, the county council's alternative that would hold property tax rate increases to the rise in the cost of living.
The article discussed the ballot questions and listed $25 million in possible, school budget reductions resulting from TRIM, Muir said the money for the regular newsletter was already budgeted, so the publication was distributed, "at no additional cost to the taxpayer."
Schlotterbeck contended that neither the Taxpayers League nor the pro-TRIM candidates would support any cutbacks in "essential services" in the county.