At its recent meeting, the Battle Ground City Council passed an ordinance asking voters to consider annexing to Clark County Fire District 3. The next step is for the Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 3 to adopt a similar resolution. If approved, the annexation proposal will be on the ballots of residents in both jurisdictions during the February 11, 2020 Special Election.
Fire District 3 will hold a public hearing on October 28 at 6:00 p.m. at 17718 NE 159th Street, Brush Prairie, WA 98606. The public is invited to attend and provide comment. The measure must be approved by voters in both areas to take effect.
The City and Fire District have been discussing annexation for a year. The City contracts for fire and EMS with Fire District 3. Call volumes have increased to the point that the cost of the contract is impacting the City’s ability to fund current levels of service in all departments including fire and emergency medical services, police, roads, parks, and community programs. Specifically, the current fire services contract is $1.35 of the City’s $1.37 per $1,000 general property tax levy. The fire services contract would exceed the City’s general property tax levy in 2021.
Battle Ground is the only city in the area that contracts for emergency services. A contract is short-term by nature, which prevents the Fire District from being able to plan for emergency services on a regional basis, including capital items. The City is unable to fund the need for stations and apparatus on its own.
Under annexation, all property owners would pay the same fire levy rate. City residents also would be able to vote on fire district issues such as commissioners, levies, and bonds, which they currently can’t do.
If annexation is approved, Battle Ground will reduce its utility tax for water, sewer and stormwater by 46 percent to help offset the cost of the fire levy for City residents. The remaining revenue would provide the following improvements for City residents on an annual basis:
• Roads: Critically needed maintenance and preservation of roads throughout the city, with the focus being on local neighborhood streets and collectors. Several local roads throughout the City need immediate maintenance, for example NW 29th Ave that serves the Lewisville neighborhood is in severe need and would be one of many priorities. ($750,000)
• Police: Additional police officers for increased traffic patrols, investigations, proactive policing, community outreach, and to re-implement the K9 program ($550,000).
• Parks and Trails: Increased park maintenance, more playground equipment, and planning for future parks and trails ($175,000).
• City Beautification: Enhancing street medians, public areas, and planting strips throughout the city ($25,000).
More information can be found on the City’s website at https://www.cityofbg.org/470/Fire-Emergency-Medical-Services. People with additional questions are encouraged to email Chief Scott Sorenson (email@example.com) or City Manager Erin Erdman (firstname.lastname@example.org).