Letter to the Editor

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

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(1) comment

Dave Hofmann

Unfortunately, the writer doesn't have all the facts on this, and probably doesn't see this from the BG property owner's perspective. One inaccuracy I would like to point out based on the information from the City of Battle Ground's website is the city will retain ownership of the fire station. District 3 will not own it, but will lease it from the city.

The truth is this is a huge money grab for the city. As a property owner in the city, as soon as annexation occurs, I get additional property tax assessment of $1.35/$1000 for 2019 and $1.40/$1000 for 2020 which goes to District 3. (The assessed values are from the Clark County Property Information website.) The City of BG will continue to assess the same $1.37/$1000 while neither providing or paying for fire services. In other words, you will get a chance to pay double your city assessment for the same service.

Now the city has said they will give tax relief in the form of a reduction on the Utility Tax on the Water, Sewer and Storm Water bill. Based on their estimates which use the new tax increase at $1.30/1000, the relief would be less than 20% of the new tax. This would also be given to anyone paying the water bill, rather than to the entity paying the property taxes.

I strongly urge a no vote on this. I am not against Fire District 3 or potentially entertaining a future annexation, but not under these conditions.

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