The following were among items discussed at the June 18 Howard County Council meeting. For more information, call 992-2001.

HOUSING COMMISSION -- At a public hearing, some county residents criticized a council bill that would create a seven-member county housing commission to administer low- and moderate-income housing programs in the county. The proposed Howard County Housing Commission, the residents contended, would wield too much power for a non-elected board and create an unnecessary housing bureaucracy.

Three of seven residents who spoke against the bill criticized a provision that would give the new commission the right to condemn and appropriate private land for future housing projects.

"Eminent domain should stay with the County Council and the {county} executive, not {be} given to this board," said Ridgely Jones, a longtime county resident.

If the bill is passed, the commission would oversee the spending of $3.3 million in state and county money earmarked for the creation of an additional 50 low- and moderate-income housing units in the county. Those new units will include the 24-unit Allfa Pines complex in Ellicott City -- former luxury town houses that are being redesigned with fewer amenities, at a cost of $1.6 million, for use as low-income housing.

The commission also would oversee 400 existing low-income housing units in various parts of the county, county officials said. The commission would have the authority to sell bonds and to acquire any real estate given to the county as a gift.

Some residents criticized the bill for not including provisions for low- and moderate-income housing for county senior citizens. "Don't forget the seniors," Amelia Cressman, a Columbia resident and senior citizen advocate, told council members.

Other residents and county and state officials said, however, that the commission is needed. Over the next 20 years, an additional 22,000 new low- and moderate-income jobs will be created in the county, said Jim Landerkin, chairman of the Howard County Housing and Community Development Board. While those jobs will create a need for a total of 5,300 low- to moderate-income housing units, the county, based on its current plans, would have only about half that many units 20 years from now, according to Landerkin.

The loss in affordable housing for workers could result in fewer employers locating in Howard County, causing a static tax base, he said.

The council is scheduled to vote on the bill at its July 2 meeting.

CABLE RATES -- Council members expressed tentative support at a public hearing for a resolution urging the county's largest cable television company to limit any future rate increase in a given year to no more than the annual rate of inflation.

Howard Cable TV Associates Inc., the county's largest cable television provider with about 36,000 subscribers, has increased its rates by 50 percent in the past four years, making it difficult for county residents on fixed and lower incomes to afford cable TV service, according to the resolution's sponsor, Council member Vernon Gray.

Gray has said in the past that he has received many complaints from constituents in recent years about "the phenomenal increase in {cable} rates" in the county.

The cable company's general manager told the council during the hearing that his company now offers customers the option of a new "limited service" that includes major network and public broadcast channels. But council members questioned whether the limited service is worth the cost, even at a reduced rate.

Since 1986, Howard Cable has raised its fee for basic cable service from $11.95 per month to the current rate of $17.95, according to the resolution and company officials. The most recent hike -- a $2-a-month increase -- went into effect Jan. 1.

The resolution notes that since the Cable Act of 1984 removed authority for cable TV rate-setting from local jurisdictions and gave it to the Federal Communications Commission, the rates have climbed rapidly across the nation.

In October, a second cable operator, Bethesda-based Mid-Atlantic Cable, began service in the county. The company charges $10.95 a month for basic service, but serves only western Howard County, with about 1,000 current subscribers, company officials said.

Howard Cable, with the vast majority of cable subscribers, "should exercise more reasonableness and consideration in setting rates for cable service," the resolution states.

Howard Cable officials, however, said that until 1984, the county forced the company to keep its fees down even though costs were rising, and several increases have been necessary since then to better reflect actual costs. No additional rate increases are planned at this time, according to Kay Cardinale, an office manager for Howard Cable.

The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at its July 2 meeting.