MOORPARK : Businesses Criticize Ambulance Tax

Moorpark business leaders Thursday criticized a proposal to tax homeowners and businesses to fund a city-run ambulance service.

Moorpark Chamber of Commerce President Linda Plaks said members were concerned about the "huge taxes"--ranging from $80 yearly for homeowners to as much as $4,284 for businesses--needed to create a new ambulance station in the city.

Eighteen of the largest businesses in Moorpark protested the measure Wednesday in a letter to the City Council, Plaks said. The chamber represents about 225 Moorpark businesses.

The tax is supported by council members Clint Harper and Eloise A. Brown, who say private ambulance crews respond too slowly to calls in the city of about 27,000.

Despite the opposition from business leaders, Harper staunchly defended the measure. "The additional protection for my family is worth the additional tax per year," he said.

If passed by voters in November, the city would tax homeowners and businesses for the costs of establishing an ambulance station in downtown Moorpark. The estimated cost of the station is $870,000 for the first year of operation.

Homeowners would finance about 75% of the costs, and businesses the rest.

Business taxes will range from about $143 a year for auto repair shops to $4,284 for large regional shopping centers.

The issue has divided members of the Moorpark City Council for months. At least two council members have sided with business leaders, saying taxpayers should not be asked to pay for the ambulance service.

"I don't think Moorpark has any experience in the ambulance business," Councilman Scott Montgomery said. "I don't think we should reinvent the wheel."

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