The City of Battle Ground is asking to annex to Clark County Fire District 3 in the upcoming election. This measure must be passed by voters in both the city and the fire district for it to take effect. A lot of attention has been focused on what’s in it for city residents (which is significant), but I’d like to share what’s at stake for residents of Fire District 3.
First, let’s look at the history. In the past, Battle Ground had a contract with a different fire district. However, Fire District 3 was responding to multiple calls in the city because its engines and stations were closest. This is called “mutual aid” and is required to best serve people. However, these calls were uncompensated, which meant district tax dollars were subsidizing city residents.
Fast forward to today and the district has the contract to provide service to the city, which helps but is not ideal. This temporary arrangement means we have a station in the city that is staffed to respond seamlessly to calls in the district. This provides a faster and more efficient response for district residents in an emergency, but we don’t own the station.
Add to this fact that the city cannot afford to renew the contract at current service levels. This would mean cuts to staffing at the city fire station, which translates to a lower level of service for district residents. With annexation, city residents would pay the same amount as those of us in the district for services they receive and service levels could be maintained for everyone. District property owners would continue to pay the current fire levy.
While my family chose to live outside the city, I recognize that the city and district are inextricably linked and stronger working together when it comes to emergency services. Annexation is fair and more cost-effective for taxpayers long-term. Planning for emergency services on a regional basis is safer for our families. Please take a moment to review Fire District 3’s website to learn more about annexation at www.fire3.org/annexation-information.