ANNAPOLIS -- A committee set up to review Maryland's automobile emissions inspection program expects to report to Gov. William Donald Schaefer in about a month on what, if any, changes are needed.

The current system requiring yearly inspections got considerable support at a public hearing last week, although several witnesses proposed some changes to make the program more convenient for motorists.

The inspection program will lapse unless the 1988 General Assembly continues or changes it, said Richard Berndt, chairman of the committee.

The major disagreement at the hearing involved whether the state should stick to its centralized system, in which tests are given at 10 stations run by a private contractor, or change to a decentralized system in which service stations and garages administer the test.

The case for the stations was made by Michael Miron, owner of an Annapolis service station who also spoke for a trade organization representing garages and service stations in Maryland.

Miron said a decentralized system would give motorists hundreds of places to have their annual inspections conducted.

"Travel distance and time would be significantly lower in a decentralized system," he said. Miron also said service stations and garages would do the work at least as cheaply and as well as the contractor, which charges $9.

The system has been operated from the beginning by Systems Control Inc., which wants to continue as the sole contractor.

John Wallach, representing Systems Control, said a decentralized system would reduce the driving distance slightly, but would not save time. He said it also would be open to fraud because of the difficulty in policing a decentralized system.

Wallach said studies by the federal Environmental Protection Agency show that centralized systems are more effective in reducing pollution than decentralized systems.

There was considerable support for changing the plan so that inspections would be required once every two years instead of every year.END NOTES