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West Valley Focus

AGOURA HILLS : Residents Oppose Proposed Utility Tax

May 27, 1994|KURT PITZER

A standing-room-only crowd of Agoura Hills residents voiced strong opposition this week to a proposed utility tax being considered by their City Council to plug a budget gap.

The public hearing Wednesday night gave residents a second and final chance to air their views on the matter before the council on June 8 votes whether to establish a 5% tax on the use of water, electricity, gas and telephone service.

"The tax is bad for business and it's bad for the citizens," said Gary Mueller, an unsuccessful candidate for City Council last year. "We've made too many mistakes in the city and spent money on things we shouldn't have. We need to cut back within the city from the top down."

"The problem is poor management," said Harold Halsey, who owns several commercial buildings in Agoura Hills. "The city can't seem to resolve anything without ending up in court."

Ironically, several who accused the City Council of overspending, including Halsey, have lawsuits pending against the city.

Unlike neighboring Calabasas, Westlake Village and Los Angeles, the city of Agoura Hills has so far resisted placing fees on utilities to raise money for sheriff's, public works and other services.

Councilwoman Fran Pavley said the city may have to consider the tax this year, as Agoura Hills faces a nearly $1-million budget shortfall due to increasing costs and a shrinking share of state revenues.

"Everyone is opposed to the utility tax," Pavley said. "The council will be continuing to look at additional cuts, but when do you start making a negative impact on the quality of life? You can only defer street maintenance for so long before you have very expensive repairs on your hands."

The council has scheduled a budget workshop for June 1, one week before considering the tax proposal.

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