Battle Ground resident David Hofmann shares his thoughts on the proposed annexation of Fire District 3 in Battle Ground
Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com
The proposed annexation into Fire District 3 is too expensive for Battle Ground property owners. Based on information from the city of Battle Ground and Clark County Property Information websites, property owners would immediately be assessed $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2019 and $1.40/1,000 for 2020, which would go to Fire District 3.
The city would still collect their $1.37/1,000 they have been collecting. In other words, your city property tax would essentially double for the same services you had. The city has approved a reduction in the Utility Tax on Water, Sewer and Storm water bills in order to provide tax relief. Based on their numbers, this would save the rate payer, not necessarily the property owner, $103 per year.
The new tax assessment going to Fire District 3 is estimated to cost the property owner $390 to $520 a year. (Note: They also used $1.30/1,000 for this estimation. So these figures are skewed to the low end.)
I don’t see a problem with the service Fire District 3 provides, and annexation in the future may be a good idea, but this is a cleverly designed money grab by the city. Battle Ground would continue to assess at the same rate for property taxes, but would no longer pay for fire protection services out of those taxes. The city would just transfer that expense to the property owner.
For the other voters within Fire District 3, it has been mentioned that it would be fair to the residents of the district who live outside of the city limits if annexation were approved. The people inside the city are not getting a free ride.
The contract is negotiated between the two parties, and based on the statements on the city of Battle Ground website, it doesn’t appear the city residents are getting a discounted rate. Adding the residents of the city of Battle Ground, a generally tax adverse group, will dilute your voting power, and make it potentially more difficult for you to pass future levies. As it is now, you get full payment without any meddling from the city’s residents.
I will be voting “no’’ on this proposal, and I encourage the same from all other property owners within the city of Battle Ground. I would happily review a future proposal that provides realistic and proportional tax relief for the annexation.