The Isla Vista Recreation and Park District (IVRPD) Finance Committee found that it has no funds in its 2004-05 budget to allocate for the construction of the new I.V. Community Center.

The Finance Committee, which drafts the IVRPD’s annual budget, met with IVRPD General Manager Derek Johnson and accounting specialist Jeff Yolles at the group’s weekly meeting Wednesday night. Johnson presented his preliminary draft of the budget to committee members Logan Green and Alisha Dahlstrom, which included a proposal to increase IVRPD employee salaries. Johnson said the IVRPD has no money it can allocate to the community center project because it must set aside funds to cover any possible damages the district may incur as a result of a lawsuit brought against it by the local Libertarian party.

Johnson said the IVRPD, which gets approximately 58 percent of its funding from special taxes levied on local property owners, is projecting a budget of $1,117,335 for next year. He said about 55 percent of this money will be spent on employee salaries and benefits, which includes a recommendation to increase IVRPD salaries by 7 percent.

Funding for the new I.V. Community Center project, however, was not included in Johnson’s budget proposal. Johnson said the IVRPD has been forced to set aside money for possible damages payments, following a lawsuit filed by local Libertarian Party, which sued the IVRPD for violating the Brown Act. The Brown Act requires that public bodies conduct all of their business in view of the public and with proper, advanced notification of the public.

“We have $70,000 set aside to deal with any contingencies playing out from the motion decided by the court, and I suggest we don’t do anything [with it] right now, given that we have this outstanding issue,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the IVRPD is currently appealing to the Isla Vista Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee for funds to finance the construction of community center.

Yolles said the board is legally required to have a budget ready by April, after which it will be opened to public comment and voted on by the IVRPD board of directors.