FD3 at work

Clark County Fire District 3 firefighters work to extinguish flames after a crash in 2017. The district currently has a contract to provide fire protection services to Battle Ground, though the city is eyeing the potential for formal annexation into the district which would ensure consistent service levels but increase the property tax burden on city residents.

The city of Battle Ground will likely ask voters to approve a potential annexation into Clark County Fire District 3 on the February 2020 special election ballot.

The city sent out a news release indicating that both it and the fire district had preliminarily agreed to see an annexation vote appear on the ballot next year. Currently, the city contracts with the fire district for its services, with payment on the contract making up the lion’s share of the property tax levy that residents pay.

The release noted that at the current rate the contract would exceed the revenues the city collects with its levy by 2021. Continuing on the current path would mean services levels would decrease.

“This partnership benefits both city and fire district residents,” Fire District 3 Chief Scott Sorenson stated in the release. “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.”

In an email to The Reflector, Battle Ground City Manager Erin Erdman said that council and fire district commissioners had a workshop in June where they discussed the potential for annexation. She said that council would vote on putting the measure on the ballot in October, with two public hearings preceding the vote.

Should council approve a vote to appear on the ballot, both city residents and those currently living in Fire District 3’s jurisdiction would be able to approve or deny the annexation.

The city release noted that Battle Ground is the only city in Clark County that contracts for fire service and isn’t a part of a district. Should annexation go through, the rate residents pay would be about $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

With annexation there was the potential for a decrease in the current city levy which is at $1.37 per $1,000, according to the Clark County Assessor’s Office website. Annexation would allow residents to have a say in fire district matters, voting on commissioners and thus having control over how the district operates.

“Battle Ground residents want quality fire and emergency medical services as we grow,” Erdman stated. “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.

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