The two Republicans on the Howard County Council have positioned themselves as the community's fiscal watchdogs, refusing to go along with a $1.4 million supplemental appropriation for education. Councilmen Darrel Drown and Charles C. Feaga want the Board of Education to specify how the money will be used. So far, school officials have only told council members the broad categories for which the money is destined. There's nothing wrong with the councilmen's concerns. But why didn't they ask these questions during a public hearing Oct. 18, when school officials were present to field them? Instead, Messrs. Drown and Feaga waited until last Monday, when school officials weren't present, to make their big stand. Moreover, the Republicans took advantage of the fact that one council member, Democrat C. Vernon Gray, was out of town, leaving the funding decision exposed to a 2-2 split on the council. zTC It is more than a little disingenuous for council Republicans to claim they are more responsible monitors of the county pocketbook. A simple phone call to school headquarters might have cleared up this matter. (A Sun reporter made that call and got the information within minutes.) And now that the information is available, what spending will the council members condemn next? Money for new textbooks, for new and replacement equipment or for asbestos removal? Even if the council did have some objections -- the voicing of which runs counter to the state charter that such matters be left to the school system's elected board -- there is little they could do except block funding for certain broad categories. And that would be a mistake. TERRIFIC RESOLUTION: The county Board of Appeals has decided to allow Terrific Inc., a Washington-based private, non-profit group, to run a retreat center for caregivers of the terminally ill on a farm in Daisy. Neighbors objected to the proposal, but the board's action should be accepted as a good compromise. Officials placed limits on how often retreats can be held and the number of participants at any given time. Terrific is ++ sponsoring a noble charity, well within county zoning laws.