The irony of dozens of empty seats in the banquet room was not lost on Jere Robings, a taxpayer advocate who had driven all the way from Ventura to answer questions on taxpayer issues.
The president of the Ventura County Alliance of Taxpayers said he was not surprised at Thursday night's low turnout.
"They would rather stay home and watch television," he told the audience at the Radisson Hotel in Agoura Hills. "Then, they will complain when they get their tax bills."
The group of about 30 in attendance included a handful of reporters and several candidates for various regional political offices who had been invited to speak by Robings and Ernie Dynda of Agoura Hills, a former councilman who helped win passage of Proposition 13.
The two are trying to drum up support for a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit government entities from creating assessment districts or implementing new taxes without a vote of the people. They hope to get the referendum on the November, 1996, ballot.
"If these agencies need the money, and it's justified, we don't mind spending money for it," Dynda said.
Robings said taxpayers can help keep their taxes down by putting pressure on their local officials to spend their tax dollars wisely. "Keep speaking your minds," he said.
Meanwhile on Thursday night, in neighboring Calabasas, the City Council passed, with little discussion, a motion to hire a consultant to study whether the city should form a special assessment district. The city hopes to raise $10 million to repair roads in western Calabasas. Officials say the repairs are badly needed, and the city has no other means of raising the funds.