VIDEO: Battle Ground City Manager, Fire District 3 Chief talk fire annexation

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. 

A fire engine waits at Clark County Fire District 3 Station 35 in Battle Ground. Photo by Chris Brown
A fire engine waits at Clark County Fire District 3 Station 35 in Battle Ground. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

Battle Ground City Manager Erin Erdman and Fire District 3 Chief Scott Sorenson answer questions about annexation. Photo by Chris Brown
Battle Ground City Manager Erin Erdman and Fire District 3 Chief Scott Sorenson answer questions about annexation. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

Clark County Fire District 3 Station 35 inside the Battle Ground city limits. Photo by Chris Brown
Clark County Fire District 3 Station 35 inside the Battle Ground city limits. Photo by Chris Brown

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.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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