The Isla Vista Community Services District (CSD) Board of Directors voted Tuesday to call a special election in June for a new user utility tax that would provide the CSD with its main source of revenue.
If passed, I.V. residents would pay an additional eight percent on their gas, water, electricity, sewer and trash disposal services. Revenue collected from the tax would provide the CSD about $642,000 a year.
This will be the second time that a version of the Utility User Tax shows up on a ballot, after a similar ballot measure failed in Nov. 2016, leaving the CSD with no permanent funding. But the Board directors are confident that with better understanding of what the tax pays for, voters will finally pass the measure in June.
“There was not a good enough link in people’s minds that the district and the money need to go together in order for government to succeed in the way it does across the country,” Director Spencer Brandt said.
The language of the latest ballot measure says the tax will go toward improving “parking, public safety, lighting and sidewalks” in the community, along with providing landlord-tenant mediation services. CSD General Manager Jonathan Abboud noted some of the inclusions in the language were among the most common concerns I.V. residents expressed when surveyed.
The Board’s resolution mentioned that certain people may be exempted from the tax. Director Brandt emphasized his commitment to lower-income exemptions, while Director Jay Freeman pointed out that I.V. businesses, with their sizable utilities usage, may also need exemptions.
The CSD’s urgency to find funding has ramped up in recent meetings. Brandt said the district has been operating in “financial emergency mode” since its inception. If the CSD fails to secure a tax by 2023, it will be forced to dissolve.
“If it fails, we’d be upset,” said Abboud. “But I think we’ve clearly shown that we can do a lot with nothing and we’d continue doing our mission of serving the people of Isla Vista.”
Correction: A previous version of the article contained the sentence, “The CSD’s urgency to find funding has ramped up in recent meetings, as its internship program, Community Service Organization expansion program and planned graffiti abatement program threaten to eat up most of the $200,000 provided by UC Santa Barbara.” The CSD’s internship program is not funded by UCSB but by a private donor to the university. The programs have since been omitted, as the costs will not amount to “most” of the university’s contribution.
The article also misattributes the quote “financial emergency mode” to Ethan Bertrand. The quote was said by Spencer Brandt.