The Isla Vista Community Services District expects revenues of over $1.36 million and expenses of approximately $1.26 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
This is an increase of approximately $160,000 in revenue and over $500,000 in estimated actual expenses from the previous fiscal year, according to the budget, which was approved by the district’s Board of Directors at its June 23 meeting.
In the upcoming year, the budget estimates that $940,000, or approximately 69% of the district’s revenue, will result from the User Utility Tax (UUT) — an 8% tax on gas, garbage removal, sewage, water and electricity in Isla Vista residences — approved by Isla Vistans in May 2018.
An additional $191,000, or 14% of the expected revenue, is from a grant from UC Santa Barbara, according to the budget, which will be used to fund the Community Service Officers (CSO) Safety Stations and the UC Police Department Interpersonal Violence Investigator.
The budget also allocates $142,000 in revenue for renting 970 Embarcadero Del Mar to host community programs, which the I.V. CSD is likely to acquire, according to Abboud.
From March to June 2020, the Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) saw significant declines in UUT revenue from several utilities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a subsequent decrease in housing density.
In that same period of time, electricity and gas revenue decreased by 41% and 66%, respectively. Trash and water revenue saw smaller declines: Trash revenue was approximately 8% lower, while water revenue was down about 23%.
But Southern California Edison, the company that provides I.V.’s electricity, and the Goleta Water District, the entity responsible for the community’s water, are considering rate increases that would increase UUT revenue, according to Jonathan Abboud, general manager of the I.V. CSD.
While many other public agencies are facing “financial crisis” as a result of the coronavirus, the I.V. CSD will be able to provide services at similar or even “enhanced levels,” according to Spencer Brandt, board president of the I.V. CSD.
“We are in a really fortunate position right now,” Brandt said.
The largest portion of the I.V. CSD’s expenses in the new fiscal year will be for community programs, according to the budget.
About 40% of the budget — $544,000 — is designated for community programs. This includes the I.V. Community Center and Community Room, special projects, the Survivor Resource Center, a community garden, a compost collective and a possible community festival, the budget read.
The I.V. Community Center and Community Room represents nearly three-quarters of this funding.
The approximately $400,000 in funding allocated for the I.V. Community Center and Community Room includes the cost of salaries for two new full-time staff — an assistant general manager for community programs and a community engagement coordinator — and utilities for the building, short- and long-term maintenance, janitorial staff, grant writing, marketing, programming and furniture.
The budget also includes $55,000 for a possible community festival as an alternative to Deltopia, I.V.’s unsanctioned annual street party. However, the festival may or may not happen in 2021, depending on the coronavirus pandemic — there were less than 30 attendees of Deltopia 2020.
Approximately $340,000 for operations are included in the budget, as well as $33,575 for the rental housing mediation program, $28,000 for a parking study and advertising for parking alternatives, $125,000 for public works and graffiti abatement and $38,000 for updating the I.V. Master Plan, according to the budget letter.
Public safety programs comprise an additional 20%, or $253,000, of the I.V. CSD’s 2020-21 budget. Approximately 60% of this portion is dedicated to the interpersonal violence investigator.
The budget also allocates $59,000 for the CSO Safety Stations, $30,000 for community policing and $12,000 for a social media intern for the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP).
This aspect of the budget drew opposition from a community member during public comment. Andrew Johnson, a political science graduate student at UCSB, said that this money should be used to fund other resources, citing the national movement to defund the police.
“You’re not listening to how [the police are] targeting and making us feel very unsafe,” he told the board, singling out the funding for a social media intern for the IVFP and the district’s use of contracting for police work.
By funding the intern, the district is acting as “a propaganda arm for the police,” according to Johnson.
Director Jay Freeman said funding the IVFP intern was “weirdly concerning,” although he believed the district was already “on the hook for it” due to approving the spending at a previous meeting.
The budget only allocates $30,000 for community policing, which Freeman called an “interesting challenge to the community” to decrease “the number of armed law enforcement.”
If the I.V. CSD is unable to determine how to do this, the funds would not be spent, he said.