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VALLEY FOCUS | Agoura Hills

Group Wants Refunds of 4% Utility Tax

July 23, 1998|SUE FOX

The long-running campaign against utility taxes in Agoura Hills gained support this week when a local tax opposition group gathered about 50 claims that demanded refunds for taxes paid long ago, said Barbara Murphy, the group's co-chairwoman.

The city imposed a 4% utility tax on residents in 1994, but the state Supreme Court ruled the following year that cities cannot impose taxes without a general vote. Agoura Hills voters then defeated the tax in 1996.

The city voluntarily reimbursed taxes collected after the court ruling to people who requested refunds, but the group Citizens Against New Local Taxes wants the city to return the rest of the money--about $1.5 million collected between June 1994 and September 1995, Murphy said.

"We're arguing that they really need to offer everyone full refunds," Murphy said. The citizens group has hired a San Diego lawyer, Rick Gann. Gann's father, Richard, helped pass an amendment to the state Constitution in 1996 that requires voter approval of taxes, and his grandfather, Paul, was one of the authors of Proposition 13, the property tax cap passed in 1978.

Murphy said she delivered 75 tax refund claims to the city on July 9 and plans to drop off the next batch of about 50 this week.

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