A new survey by the Los Angeles County Business Federation finds that local business owners and executives are more optimistic about the economy this year, but concern over higher taxes, fees and government regulation is dampening expansion and hiring.

The latest BizFed BizPOLL survey of members, released Thursday, finds that 61 percent of respondents believe business conditions this year will be better than last year, up slightly from the same time last year.

It’s also up significantly from the fall survey, released in October, when less than one-third of respondents believed the economy would get better in the next six months.

Only 34 percent of 421 respondents in the new survey plan to increase their workforce this year, compared with 31 percent at the same time a year earlier. One in six businesses is forecasting layoffs this year, which is down from one in three a year ago.

Taxes and fees and government regulation again top the survey as members’ highest-priority concerns.

“Today, businesses are increasingly entrenched and hesitant to risk expansion, as a protective maneuver against uncertainty – so much so that it’s now impacting investment in our region and creation of new jobs,” said John Kelsall, chairman of BizFed and chief executive of the Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.

BizFed is an alliance of 92 industry trade groups, chambers of commerce and other business associations, representing more than 150,000 businesses and two million employees in the Los Angeles area. Member groups sent the poll to their own individual members, with respondents in the latest survey representing a cross section of businesses by industry, size and location.