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The area within the city limits becomes part of Fire District 3’s jurisdiction. City of Battle Ground property owners would be within the fire district and pay for fire/EMS services directly to the fire district.
Unlike all other Clark County cities, Battle Ground does not have its own fire department nor is it part of a fire district. The city contracts with Fire District 3 to provide services within the city. The current contract expires in 2021 and must be renegotiated.
The city has explored this option. The estimated startup costs for a new fire department is nearly $7 million, which the city cannot afford. We also cannot rely on a volunteer fire department considering the size of the city, which is 21,000 people making more than 2,500 emergency calls per year.
Yes, the city went through a competitive bidding process. Fire District 3 was the most cost-effective and provided the highest level of service for our community.
The amount an individual property owner pays varies because it is based on the assessed value of their property. Currently, property owners pay the equivalent of $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed property value to the city for Fire/EMS services. This is paid out of the city’s general property tax levy of $1.37/$1,000.
Under annexation, the fire levy is projected to be $1.30/$1,000 in 2021 when it takes effect. To determine the projected annual cost of a Fire/EMS levy, simply multiply $.0013 by the assessed value of your home. For homes assessed between $300,000 and $400,000, the projected annual cost will range between $390 and $520. (The median assessed value of a residential property in the city is $298,000.)
To help offset the cost, the city will be reducing its utility tax rate.
Yes, the city is planning to reduce its utility tax to offset some of these costs. A portion will be used to fund stronger policing efforts, better streets and parks maintenance.
The fire/EMS services contract will exceed the city’s property tax collection revenues by 2021. Without annexation, emergency service levels would have to be reduced for the city to maintain a balanced budget.
In 2019, the contract costs $2,964,508 which comes out of the city’s general fund. The general fund also pays for other city services such as police, parks and recreation, community development (planning, building, code compliance), and public works (streets and public facilities).
Voters in both the city and fire district must approve the annexation, and the election will be in February of 2020. If approved, the annexation would take effect January 1, 2021 according to state law.