BRUSH PRAIRIE — The Board of Fire Commissioners for Clark County Fire District 3 will consider a resolution at two upcoming meetings to place a 13-cent fire levy lid lift on the November General Election ballot. The public is encouraged to attend, share their thoughts or learn more about the proposal.
The meetings will be Mon., May 22 and Mon., June 12 at 6:00 pm at Fire District 3’s headquarters in Hockinson at 17718 NE 159th Street, Brush Prairie. Community members who would like to provide comment, but are unable to attend the meetings may send a letter to the Brush Prairie address or email Chief Steve Wrightson directly at email@example.com. All communication is appreciated, and becomes part of the official public record.
Since 2007, emergency calls have increased almost 40 percent in the fire district alone, as have costs for apparatus and facilities maintenance, equipment and supplies, and personnel. In contrast, the fire district is limited to a 1 percent revenue increase per year. These costs are not something the fire district controls, and have forced Fire District 3 to fund daily operations out of emergency reserves for several years. Response times are starting to increase, which could downgrade the agency’s insurance rating and cause premiums to rise for businesses and homeowners.
Fire Chief Steve Wrightson says that the district’s contract to serve the city of Battle Ground came at a good time. The contract has meant additional staffing at fire stations in the district, as well as improving the agency’s ability to respond to multiple emergencies that happen at the same time. The contract also ensures that fire district taxpayers are no longer subsidizing emergency services for city residents and businesses through mutual aid.
“The fact of the matter is that higher call volumes are coming from district residents – not the city,” he said. “And, Fire District 3 hasn’t had a voter-approved funding increase for 11 years. We have to let people know that revenue is not keeping up with the demand for service, which is why we’re considering this fire levy lid lift.”
The fire levy has fallen from $1.42 to $1.29 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If approved by voters, the lid lift would return the fire levy to $1.42 per $1,000. That equates to an additional $4.33 per month ($52 per year) for a property valued at $400,000. The maximum amount a fire district can ask for by law is $1.50 per $1,000, but Chief Wrightson says the district doesn’t need that much.
“We have an efficient operation at Fire District 3,” said Chief Wrightson. “This is the amount we need to maintain emergency service levels moving forward and protect our insurance rating for home and business owners.”
The Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau ranks fire districts based on their emergency service capabilities. This rating directly impacts the amount home and business owners pay in insurance premiums.
Clark County Fire District 3 provides fire suppression and emergency medical service to 40,000 people over 84 square miles, including the city of Battle Ground. Fire District 3 emergency personnel respond to approximately 3,500 calls per year. More information on Fire District 3 can be found on its website www.fire3.org.
Information provided by Fire District 3.