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Local News

Isla Vista Community Services District Trying Again to Pass Utility-User Tax

The Isla Vista Community Services District will try again for its utility-user tax measure on the June ballot, asking voters to approve funding for local infrastructure projects and programs. 

Voters previously approved forming the district itself and board of directors, but the district will be dissolved if residents do not approve a funding mechanism by 2023.

The Isla Vista Community Services District announced Monday that its seven-member board voted 6-0 to place the measure, which they are calling the Improved Isla Vista and Infrastructure Funding Plan, on the June 5 ballot.

(Board member George Thurlow, a UCSB assistant vice chancellor, recused himself from the discussion and vote.)

If approved by two-thirds of district voters, the measure would create an 8-percent utility-user tax for gas, electricity, water, trash and sewer services, said Jonathan Abboud, interim general manager for the IVCSD. 

The estimated $642,000 in annual revenue would be spent upgrading “parking, public safety, lighting, sidewalks, tenant mediation services, graffiti removal, public art, and the operation of community facilities and events,” according to Abboud.

The ballot measure includes the possibility of exemptions or lower rates, such as for low-income or commercial utility users.

If passed, the funding will allow the Isla Vista community to “embark on a path toward truly transformative change, and fulfill the desire for increased local control,” IVCSD Board secretary Spencer Brandt said in a statement. 

The IVCSD does not have a permanent, dedicated funding source and this ballot measure will be its second attempt to pass a utility user tax to fund its operations, after a similar measure failed in November 2016. 

That year, residents voted overwhelmingly for partial self-governance by passing Measure E — the creation of a community services district — with 87.3 percent approval.

The utility user tax, Measure F, garnered 61.2 percent of the vote which fell short of the necessary two-thirds approval. 

The Board of Directors includes five members elected by Isla Vista voters, one appointed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, and one appointed by UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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