Before the new, expanded Montgomery County Council sat down to business this week -- even before some of them officially entered the race -- preparations began at 100 Maryland Ave. to welcome nine legislators to a building accustomed to accommodating the needs of seven.

The expansion of the County Council to nine members, a move voters approved in 1986, has so far cost $350,000, to renovate the Stella B. Werner Council Office Building. Nearly $260,000 is budgeted for annual salaries, benefits and postage for the new members and their staffs.

The new expenses that accompany the council's expansion won't be limited to salaries or construction, some council members say.

Council member William E. Hanna Jr., who by entering his third term this week becomes the panel's senior member, believes that the recent election of five of the council members by district, as opposed to the traditional at-large method, will have hidden costs.

"If one district gets a library, the other will say 'See, we want one too,' " Hanna said.

"I opposed the expansion and election by district," Hanna continued. " . . . The whole process of government is going to be longer and more expensive."

For two years, council staff director Arthur Spengler has added to his list of budget and tax worries renovation of the building, whose structure often is described as cramped and antiquated. Bricks of differing colors on the exterior mark several previous expansions.

In its current renovation, which began a year ago, the building wasn't enlarged. Rather, its facilities have been reorganized to accommodate the offices of all nine members on the sixth floor.

To accomplish this, the entire central council staff, which does not include staffs of individual council members -- has been moved to the fifth floor.

"We just finished the move {Sunday}," said Spengler, in his eighth year as council staff director.

The project also involved such tasks as finding two chairs to match the 25-year-old seats on the dais of the third-floor council chamber, and two others to match council seats in the top-floor chamber.

Spengler found two chairs of the same size and shape as the third-floor chairs. The old ones -- a mustard color -- were reupholstered in a beige cloth to match the new.

"I don't think you can find that color any more" Spengler said. "But, can you find anything to last 25 years?"

Hanna, who at Tuesday's regular council meeting turned over his tasks as council president to Isiah Leggett, predicted "good things" from the council but "more voices, more memos, more everything."

Leggett said that as president he will try to contain the length of meetings -- some of which drag on from morning till evening.

"I've always complained of the amount of time. It's unfair to citizens. I will have no problem with reminding people to keep it short, that we are in public sessions, not work sessions," Leggett said.

In the first 12 to 18 months of the new council term, there may be some of the parochialism Hanna fears, Leggett said, and the result may be additional costs in time and money, "but the four members-at-large provide a kind of buffer."

Before their first official meeting this week, council members met last week to decide committee assignments.

In a departure from past practice, there will be six council committees of three members each, instead of seven committees.

The council has eliminated the Government Services and Automation Committee and has created a Public Safety Committee.

Committee assignments:

Planning, Housing and Economic Development is headed by Hanna, previous term chairman. Bruce Adams and Derick Berlage are members.

Public Safety is led by Betty Ann Krahnke, the only Republican to head a committee. Members are Gail Ewing and Nancy Dacek, the council's other Republican.

Education is led by Michael L. Subin, previous term chairman. Leggett and Dacek are members.

Health and Human Services is directed by Ewing, with Marilyn Praisner and Krahnke serving as members.

Budget and Management is headed by Praisner, with members Hanna and Subin.

Transportation is led by Leggett. Members are Adams and Berlage.