The city of Battle Ground is asking residents for input as it contemplates its future of fire protection, potentially putting a vote to the people for annexation into the department it currently contracts with.
Residents received survey letters in their mail last week and have until April 26 to voice their opinion. The question posed is on whether or not Battle Ground should formally annex into Clark County Fire District 3, of which it has a contract that expires at the end of 2021.
Annexation would mean Battle Ground residents would pay property taxes directly to FD3, whereas, currently, the city has a contract with them.
According to the city, the current contract with FD3 is for $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value on properties, whereas the city’s levy — what taxpayers pay — is $1.37 per $1,000.
Should the city be annexed into the district, residents would have to pay the levy rate FD3 puts on properties, which is roughly the same $1.35 per $1,000 rate of the contract. This would be on top of the city’s levy, meaning a likely increase to property taxes should annexation occur.
The city notes that the survey would be used to determine what tax impacts would be to residents. It explained that either the current levy rate for the city could be kept and be used for other city services, the rate could decrease to offset the costs of annexation, or they could come up with “something in between.”
Should the city decide on annexation, it would go to a vote of residents both in the city and in the entirety of FD3.
Battle Ground is unique among Clark County cities in that it is neither an official part of any fire protection district nor does it have its own department. City information notes that annexation would mean it would not have to go through contract negotiations every few years which could potentially lead to lower service levels; annexation would also free up funds to be used on other city needs, whereas, currently, the fire contract is comparable to the whole levy rate the city imposes for its general fund.
City information notes that annexation would be “considerably less expensive” than if it developed its own fire department, and relying on a volunteer one was “simply out of the question” given Battle Ground’s size.
Residents who have not received a mail survey may request one by contacting the city at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (360) 342-5004.