The Gaithersburg City Council last week toughened the penalty for pet owners who do not clean up after their animals in public areas, ordering a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The upgrading of the offense from a municipal infraction to a misdemeanor stemmed from citizen complaints, City Manager Sanford Daily said.

The council also changed disorderly conduct violations from municipal infractions to misdemeanors. The maximum penalty also would be 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The tougher penalty was prompted by complaints of disorderly persons in certain public areas, primarily Cedar Avenue Park.

In other action, the council:

* Decided to require licenses for businesses to have coin-operated amusement devices. The license cost has not been set.

Under the same ordinance, children under 18 are prohibited from playing the amusement games during school hours unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

* Held a public hearing on a General Electric Corp. request for the city to annex 212 acres where the company's computer division, General Electric Information Systems Co., plans to build its local headquarters.

The company wants the land to be annexed by the city so that it can avoid a Montgomery County law that could hinder future subdivision of the propoerty. Geisco will build on 42 acres but is unsure what it will do with the remaining 170 acres, said Jennifer Russel of the city planning office.

The property is south and east of Quince Orchard Road and south of the Diamond Farms Townhouse community.

Only one resident spoke on the proposed annexation, raising a concern of possible traffic problems connected with the facility. The council decided to allow 30 days for additional public comment.

* Held a hearing on amending the city charter to make it easier for the city to borrow money to buy property and for construction.

Two residents expressed fears that the change would make it easier for the city to get involved in real estate and competition with private enterprise.

The charter change would allow the city to issue tax anticipation notes and make it easier to sell bonds, as well as provide other easements in paying off and obtaining loans.