The City of Battle Ground and Clark County Fire District 3 are continuing discussions about annexation. The City, which currently contracts for fire service, will ask its voters to annex into the Fire District during the February Special Election in 2020. Voters in Fire District 3 also have to approve the annexation.
The cost of the current fire services contract will exceed the City’s property tax collection revenues by 2021. The City would have to reduce emergency service levels to maintain a balanced budget. Loss of revenue from the fire services contract also would impact service levels for Fire District 3 residents.
“This partnership benefits both city and fire district residents,” said Fire Chief Scott Sorenson. “We have increased staffing, replaced apparatus, and improved our training, paramedic and fire risk reduction programs. Less revenue means we would lose some of these partnership benefits, which is why a contractual relationship has risks. Contractual relationships in the fire service, by their very nature, are temporary and unstable.”
Battle Ground is the only city in Clark County that contracts for emergency services. Property owners pay the City through its general levy, and the City pays the Fire District for service. The amount City and Fire District residents pay for emergency services can differ, as well. For example, City property owners will pay a bit more next year as the Fire District’s fire levy falls below the agreed contract amount.
Under annexation, City property owners would pay the Fire District directly for service. All property owners would pay the same fire levy rate projected to be $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value when the annexation takes effect in 2021. City residents also would be able to vote on fire district matters such as commissioners, levies, and bonds, which they currently can’t do.
Annexation also would allow long-term planning for emergency services and City projects. The Fire District currently cannot make investments to maintain emergency service levels and response times in case the contract is not renewed. Likewise, the City does not have the revenue to make those investments itself. Annexation would allow the Fire District to address future emergency service needs while helping the City fund stronger policing efforts, better streets and parks maintenance.
“Battle Ground residents want quality fire and emergency medical services as we grow,” said Erin Erdman, city manager. “Residents believe fire and EMS are essential to the well-being of our community, which was a key focus area in our recent community visioning process.”
The City and Fire District anticipate asking voters to consider annexation during the February 2020 Special Election. More information can be found on the City’s web site at https://www.cityofbg.org/470/Fire-Emergency-Medical-Services. People with additional questions are encouraged to email Chief Scott Sorenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or City Manager Erin Erdman (email@example.com) personally.