Voters will decide on whether to annex into FD3 in February
BATTLE GROUND — On Feb. 12 of next year, voters in Battle Ground will be asked to decide whether they want to annex into Clark County Fire District 3 for fire and emergency medical services.
Currently, the city pays the fire district for services under a contract reached in 2016. Battle Ground made the switch for District 3 after previously contracting with Clark County Fire & Rescue.
That contract, says City Manager Erin Erdman, was set to increase to nearly $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
“Our goal was to go out for an RFP (Request for Proposals), and see if we could continue to provide a contract service at a lower rate, to kind of get us through the interim,” says Erdman, “so we could look at a more long-term sustainable plan.”
The city looked into creating its own fire service, but determined that it would not be a cost effective solution, given expenses such as equipment and staffing over the long term.
Fire District 3 Chief Scott Sorenson says they were able to provide service for nearly 15 cents less than CCF&R due to several factors, including fiscally conservative leadership, and their proximity to the city of Battle Ground.
“The city and the district are a good match to cover a response area that we can share resources and get to each other’s jurisdictions pretty easily,” says Sorenson. “Our fire commission board has always been fiscally conservative, and so we’re in good condition. We were then, and we still are.”
Bringing the city into Fire District 3, says Sorenson, would give them greater flexibility with planning for the future.
For the city, it would free up property taxes currently tied up in their fire contract. As it stands now, Battle Ground pays a rate of $1.35 per $1,000 to Fire District 3 for coverage. That leaves only two cents of their total property tax levy rate to spend on other city services, such as police, parks, and streets.
If voters approve annexation, residents will pay an estimated $1.30 per thousand levy rate directly to FD3 for fire and EMS services. That will raise property tax rates across the city.
In response, the city council has already approved a ten cent utility tax reduction, which would take effect if annexation is approved. That would represent a 46 percent reduction in utility tax rates for homeowners and renters.
The city has set up a cost estimate calculator that ratepayers can use to determine what their potential tax bill would look like under annexation.
To see a list of questions and answers on annexation, click here.