Montgomery and Prince George's counties have tentatively agreed to stop their territorial tug of war over fire stations in Takoma Park, a city that lies partly in both counties.
The proposed agreement, reached March 20 by a task force of government staff representatives from the city and both counties, must now be ratified by the three governments, according to Beverly Habada, assistant city administrator.
The major point of controversy had been the future of the city's fire station, which is located just inside the Montgomery County line but also serves the Prince George's part of Takoma Park.
Montgomery had proposed closing the station, along with one on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, and consolidating operations at a new Takoma Park site near Piney Branch Road and Sligo Avenue, also in Montgomery.
Prince George's joined city officials in protesting the planned clos-ing, saying it left streets near the county line unprotected.
In return for keeping the existing station open, Montgomery is to receive an undisclosed amount from the city. Prince George's has agreed to pay $355,000 a year to the city as a reimbursement for services provided county residents.
The agreement also calls for a uniform property tax rate for the city. Currently, Montgomery residents pay $1.488 per $100 of assessed value, while Prince George's residents pay $1.981. Officials estimate that the new rate will amount to about $1.75 per $100 of assessed valuation.
"Everybody wins under this agreement," said Royal Hart, a Prince George's representative on the task force. "Montgomery gets the money, the city gets to keep the fire station and Prince George's gets the tax rates on its side reduced. Plus, it gets the issue off everybody's back."
The question of unification within one county, the annual subject of bills in Maryland General Assembly, is not addressed in the proposed agreement.