Driving on smooth, new roads can bring a certain amount of enjoyment, and Rockville officials figure businessman Arthur Souders' share will be worth exactly $25,010.74.
That's his share of the $113,410 cost of improvements planned for his street, based on his property's frontage on the street. He owns Souder's Market, 214 Stonestreet Ave.
Four other property owners along the avenue, between Baltimore Road and the Viers Mill Road ramps at Reading Avenue, also have been charged for the roadwork, which will widen the street from 22 feet to 40 feet.
It's within the purview of Rockville's mayor and City Council to charge for road improvements those whose abutting property "will be specially benefited," according to city law.
Rockville typically bills residents and businesses for their share of roadwork, said Alex Butchart, engineering supervisor for the city's Public Works Department. "Normally, there's not a big challenge to these," he said.
The other property owners affected are Potomac Electric Power Co., which was charged $23,448; Bunton Instruments, $22,332; Rodney Day $18,982; and the city itself, $23,638, Butchart said. He said these property owners have not challenged the charges.
But when Souders got a notice from the city explaining the charge, he said he didn't think it was fair.
"I turned to my son, and told him, 'There's no way I'm going to pay this,' " Souders said. He went to last week's City Council meeting.
"I got up and said, 'Mr. Mayor, I don't think this is right. I gave you fellows the right-of-way to build that road back in '68, and now you want $25,000 more. I don't think that's right.' "
Council members told Souders to write to the city engineer about it. Souders said he is satisfied that at least he stands a fighting chance. "If I hadn't have gone up there and opened my mouth, they would've made me swallow that bill. I'm not going to take it."
In other business, the council heard a plea for funding from Helayne Baker, a volunteer and organizer for the Gaithersburg-Rockville Emergency Housing Shelter.
Baker said her 2-year-old group is seeking to buy, rather than rent, a house for homeless men and women. She asked the council to grant the group $42,000, which could be combined with a $50,000 low-interest loan that Montgomery County has arranged.
She said the shelter now rents a house in the Aspen Hill area of the county.
Churches and synagogues have provided some funding to the group, as well as referring to the shelter those who have lost jobs, have suffered family conflicts, have been evicted or have lost their home in other ways. The home does not take in alcoholics or drug abusers, she said.
The shelter provides a place where persons can offer each other encouragement in resolving their problems, she said.
"People who leave the shelter leave the shelter with a job or a home," Baker said. "They don't go back into the street."
She said the shelter would like a house big enough to handle 14 persons. The one they rent now can house only seven, she said.
Council members told Baker they would consider her appeal in January when they do a mid-year review of the city budget.
The council also established an Advisory Commission on Public Education, intended to improve communication and to "create a Rockville presence" before the county Board of Education, according to the resolution approved unanimously. The council has not appointed the commission's seven members.
The council decided to buy $47,528 worth of word processing equipment to be used by several city departments to handle accounting, police and public information work.
By buying the equipment from Hewlett-Packard through a contract with the University of Maryland, state and local government agencies can take advantage of a 23 percent discount, said John W. Lawton, city finance director.