The Isla Vista Community Services District finance committee met on April 5 to discuss budget allocations for the 2022-23 period. Over $420,000 is set to be spent on three priorities: community engagement, maintaining and operating the Isla Vista Community Center and continuing the Isla Vista Compost Collective program.

The Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) Community Engagement Budget is currently slated to be $163,518, with the majority of funds going directly to employees or to their unemployment and retirement services, and around $10,000 slated for direct advertising and marketing expenses.

The committee deliberated on the most efficient and cost-effective methods of community engagement, suggesting social media outreach as an effective alternative.

“We could get to a point where we’re doing some sort of paid social media outreach every week. That’s a huge leap from where we are now. But when we think about how our community communicates, that’s how,” IVCSD Director Ethan Bertrand said.

As negotiations with Santa Barbara County over the leasing of the Isla Vista Community Center continue, over half of the potential costs — namely operating expenses such as water, electricity and natural gas — are yet to be assessed. Last year’s budget listed these expenses as being $0, as they had been taken care of in the lease, but the pricing is yet to be decided.

“In the past years, we had predicted that the negotiations could lead to us paying things like utilities and landscaping and all these regular costs, ongoing costs. If you look at our budget for this year, we actually had all those things in our budget and then we ended up saying, ‘Oh, we spent $0’ because the lease agreement went in a different direction,” IVCSD General Manager Jonathan Abboud said.

Abboud said that the outcome of these negotiations may arrive after June 30 following community input.

The committee discussed the budget for the Isla Vista Compost Collective (IVCC) — a program for collecting compost from households across Isla Vista once a week — diverting a half-ton of food product from landfills every week and utilizing the compost in community gardens.

The committee discussed five different budget proposals for the collective, ranging from keeping this year’s allocation of $80,454 to an increased budget of up to $129,402.

IVCC Program Manager and UC Santa Barbara 2021 alumna Carly Marto advocated for the latter, saying that the extra money would allow for more “dirtriders” — those who collect I.V. compost — and for the program to expand in the future.

“I think adding dirtriders is definitely, like, something that we’re going to have to do in the future if we want to add more houses,” Marto said.

Marto said this change could allow for the IVCC to increase the number of houses served from 132 to upwards of 220 houses.

I.V. residents will have the opportunity to provide feedback to the committee in a budgetary survey that will be sent out to I.V. residents in the near future. Questions range from asking residents if they have ever used the community garden and would pay a small monthly fee to expand the compost collective, to ranking a list of “aesthetic issues in Isla Vista” on a scale of 1 to 7 to help the committee prioritize cleanup operations.

Residents will be asked to complete the survey ahead of an April 28 budget town hall, where members of the community will be able to give input on the proposed budget. The committee will then review and draft a preliminary budget in May and June, before the final budget hearing slated for August 23, where the final budget is set to be approved.

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Mark Alfred
Mark Alfred (he/him) is an assistant news editor for the 2022-23 school year. Contact at markalfred@dailynexus.com or 858-413-7384 (iMessage/WhatsApp/Signal/Telegram).