Clark County Fire District 3 and city of Battle Ground tackle growth through impact fees


Fire District 3 is now planning for a new fire station that would start serving the community in approximately five years

BRUSH PRAIRIE— The city of Battle Ground recently approved a requested increase in the amount it collects in impact fees, a move that will benefit Clark County Fire District 3. These funds are used to offset capital costs, such as fire stations and emergency apparatus, associated with population growth and new development in the city limits.

Fire District 3 is now planning for a new fire station that would start serving the community in approximately five years.
File photo.

Fire District 3 is expected to grow by 46 percent in the next 20 years. Impact fees are a charge placed on new development, and must be paid before a building or home can be occupied.

“We want to make sure that new growth pays for itself,” said Fire Chief Scott Sorenson. “Growth triggers the need for additional facilities and apparatus to respond to 9-1-1 calls. It’s fair that new development helps pay for the embedded costs associated with providing emergency services through impact fees.”

The city has collected an average of $187,000 per year in impact fees. The total amount collected depends on the amount of new development in the city. In 2022, the fee for a single-family home is $696. Multi-family dwellings are $327 per unit. New non-residential space is charged $0.85 per square foot.

The fire district has up to 10 years to spend the money on capital items in its Capital Facilities Plan. A copy of Fire District 3’s plan can be found on the fire district’s website at www.fire3.org

Past impact fees from the city have been used to replace a fire engine for a half million dollars. Fire District 3 is now planning for a new fire station that would start serving the community in approximately 10 years. Impact fees can be used to pay upfront for things like land acquisition, design or architectural services, engineering, and site development work. Paying cash for these items helps reduce the amount Fire District 3 will need to finance through voter-approved bonds.

The state gave local communities the ability to pass impact fees to help pay for new growth. But while the city has approved and even increased them, the Clark County Council is reluctant to do so. The fire district has teamed up with other agencies in the county to ask the Clark County Council to pass impact fees in the county, but has been unsuccessful to date.

“Impact fees mean our taxpayers pay less in property taxes and interest payments by reducing what we need to borrow to build a new station,” said Chief Sorenson. “We are grateful to the city for its support, and will continue to reach out to the County Councilmembers for help. Our taxpayers and their constituents are the same people.”

Clark County Fire District 3 provides fire and life safety services to 40,000 people in east Clark County, including the city of Battle Ground. Fifty-two full-time and 10 volunteer emergency personnel responded to 4,155 calls in 2020.  Fire District 3 operates under a balanced budget and has a long history of passing its financial and accountability audits by the state. More information on Fire District 3 can be found on its website www.fire3.org.

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