One might not guess cemeteries and UCSB’s notorious off-campus towers would have much in common. However, California state law requires neither of these entities to pay property taxes, a commonality that will affect Santa Barbara County when ownership of Francisco Torres towers transfers to the university.
The recent sale of the Francisco Torres off-campus residence hall from College Park Communities to UCSB will cost the county an estimated half million dollars in property tax revenue per year, Santa Barbara County auditor Brian Richards said.
3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall said this loss of revenue would also affect the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency, which receives its funding from property tax revenues that exceed a baseline established by the county in 1990.
The agency will lose a total of $150,000 a year as a result of the university’s purchase of FT, said Jamie Goldstein, Isla Vista Master Plan project manager.
“This has political implications. It reduces our ability to engage in projects. It reduces our ability to borrow money,” he said.
Isla Vista Recreation and Park District board member Diane Conn said the redevelopment effort would miss that sum.
“The university made substantial contributions as a direct part of the Master Plan, but we were really planning on that income,” she said.
The Goleta Union School District will also be impacted by the removal of FT from the tax rolls. The district, which will also lose an estimated $150,000 per year, is attempting to work with the university to find a way to ease financial pressures.
“We’ve met with [the university] a couple of times, but nothing concrete has come of it. Our school board has asked us to meet with them again,” Assistant Superintendent Dan Cooperman said.
Associate Vice Chancellor Everett Kirkelie said the university does not intend to compensate the redevelopment agency for money previously generated by property taxes.
“The university does not pay in lieu of fees,” he said. “We’re hoping there will be specific projects the university could help the county with, but since it is a tax-exempt organization, it will not donate [money].”
The university is working with the county to discuss possible ways to alleviate the financial burden. It has also spoken to the fire district specifically about ways to provide funds.
“We’ve looked at some
examples of this in areas such as Berkeley. The university has the ability; the question is whether it has the willingness to play an active role in the community,” Mark Chaconas, Marshall’s executive assistant, said.
Currently, the university compensates for not paying property taxes by, among other things, funding the IVFP, the I.V. Teen Center and participating in the Adopt-a-Block program.
“The university has stepped up the past two years,” Conn said. “They’ve shown themselves to be good community partners. I am optimistic that Yang is genuine.”