ANNAPOLIS, JULY 20 -- An Anne Arundel County taxpayers group announced today that it has collected more than 20,000 signatures, twice the number it needed to place an initiative limiting property taxes on the November ballot.

Robert C. Schaeffer, president of Anne Arundel Taxpayers for Responsive Government, announced the end of his organization's 3 1/2-month petition drive just before turning over a 4-foot-high stack of signatures to county officials for verification.

Under the county's charter, the signatures of 10,000 registered voters are required to qualify the tax protesters' initiative, which would roll back property tax revenue to 1989 levels and then strictly limit the amount of property tax revenue collected each year.

"If we don't qualify with double the number of signatures, there must be some real hanky-panky going on," Schaeffer said.

County Executive James Lighthizer (D) opposes the initiative, saying that it would lead to cuts in essential county services, including schools and law enforcement.

Today, Schaeffer had fighting words for his group's detractors, including Lighthizer, the seven-member County Council, a coalition of labor groups whom he accused of using "scare tactics" to fight the initiative and four candidates for county executive who have not embraced his group's proposal.

"Every voter should notice that the only people talking about cutting services are the politicians. They can't wait to do it so they can say, 'told you so,' " Schaeffer said. "Today's 'I can't' politician is unworthy to hold office in this county. The time has come for these people to really hear the will of the people they want to pretend to lead."

Business, teacher and labor groups are organizing to defeat the anti-tax proposal. One Anne Arundel County official, who asked not to be identified, responded, "Our position is that if this {is} viewed as a battle between citizens and government, this thing will be adopted, which would be very unfortunate. It really has to be viewed as citizens going up against each other."

Nancy Crawford, a supervisor in the county elections office, said her office will know within the next three weeks whether there are enough valid signatures. The group has until Aug. 13 to submit additional signatures, if necessary.

Two Maryland counties are already scheduled to vote on tax-limitation proposals. The measures reflect residents' concerns over property assessments that have escalated sharply along with housing prices.

Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Council, in what was described as an effort to defeat a more drastic measure pushed by a taxpayers' group there, agreed to place on the ballot a proposal tying increases in property tax revenue to the rate of inflation. On Thursday, election officials in Baltimore County announced that they had certified a measure that would place a 2 percent annual limit on increases in property tax revenue.

If approved, the Anne Arundel initiative would require the county next July to have a tax rate generating the same amount of property tax revenue as in fiscal 1989. County officials have said that provision would cost the local government $30 million to $45 million, or 7.3 percent of this year's total budget. In fiscal 1992 and subsequent years, increases in property tax revenue would be limited to 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

"I have a golden retriever at home who could make those kind of spending reductions in a government budget without cutting anything vital," Schaeffer said.

According to Marshall Taylor, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers' Union in Washington, the biggest obstacles these anti-tax groups face in getting their proposals enacted is raising the funds to run full-fledged campaigns. Groups involved in similar efforts around the country typically have been outspent by their opponents and have little money for advertising and mass mailings, Taylor said.

"We emphasize that if they don't have enough money to hit the media, the thing to do is go door-to-door, the canvassing, exactly what they did to get their petitions signed," Taylor said.