The city of Battle Ground and Clark County Fire District 3 have passed motions to place annexation on the February 11, 2020 Special Election ballot. The proposal would allow the City to annex to the Fire District, and must be approved by voters in both jurisdictions to take effect.
City Manager Erin Erdman and Fire Chief Scott Sorenson are looking for opportunities to speak to community service organizations about the proposal. The duo has prepared a brief presentation, and looks forward to answering questions.
“Annexation guarantees quality emergency services that City residents and businesses have come to expect,” said Erdman. “It also would help the City fund other public services community members want, such as police, roads, and parks.”
Battle Ground is the only city in the area that contracts for emergency services. The current contract rate equates to $1.35 of the City’s $1.37 per $1,000 of assessed value general property tax levy. The emergency services contract is expected to exceed this amount in 2021, and services would have to be cut for the City to maintain a balanced budget.
“Protecting the level and quality of emergency services is critical as our communities grow,” said Chief Sorenson. “Annexation also would allow us to plan long-term for emergency service needs on a regional basis.”
The current partnership allows for additional units to respond from all fire stations during back-to-back emergency calls. It has allowed for improved training, fire marshal and fire prevention services, and contributes to the strong insurance rating for both communities, which is linked to how much home and business owners pay in premiums.
However, the contract is short-term by nature which prevents the Fire District from investing in capital items on a regional basis. The City is unable to fund these items such as stations and apparatus on its own. The Fire District is in the process of finalizing a Strategic Plan to serve the region for the next five years and is struggling with the process.
“The City and Fire District are neighbors. It doesn’t make sense for us to develop a plan for capital items like stations and fire engines without including City residents and businesses,” said Chief Sorenson. “It’s uneconomic, short-sighted and would do a disservice to both communities. For these reasons, our strategic plan calls for annexation and everyone paying their fair share to maintain quality emergency services that save lives and property.”
All property owners would pay the same fire levy rate which is projected to be $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed value at the time annexation takes effect. 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 would reduce its utility tax by 46 percent for water, sewer and stormwater for City property owners and renters to help offset the cost of the fire levy. The remaining revenue would provide a list of improvements for City residents that can be found on its website at www.cityofbg.org/470/Fire-Emergency-Medical-Services.
Schedule City Manager Erdman and Fire Chief Sorenson for an upcoming meeting of your organization. Contact Chief Scott Sorenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 892-2331. City Manager Erin Erdman can be reached at email@example.com or (360) 342-5005.