North county voters will have the chance to decide if Fire District 3 can annex the city of Battle Ground into its coverage area in February.
Battle Ground City Manager Erin Erdman and Fire District 3 Chief Scott Sorenson are looking for opportunities to speak to community service organizations about the vote. They two have a presentation they’re looking to bring around to different areas of the city and Fire District 3’s coverage area, which includes Hockinson, Brush Prairie and Venersborg. Voters in both Battle Ground and the fire district’s coverage area will have the chance to vote on the annexation on Feb. 11.
Any group looking to schedule a presentation is asked to contact Sorenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-892-2331, or Erin Erdman at email@example.com or 360-342-5005.
The district covers about 90 square miles and roughly 40,000 people, half from Battle Ground and half from the other areas including Hockinson. Battle Ground is the only city in Clark County to contract with an agency for fire and emergency medical services instead of being annexed into a fire district or having a fire department. Battle Ground was served by Clark County Fire & Rescue until 2016 before switching to Clark County Fire District 3.
In the last few weeks, both Battle Ground city councilors and Fire District 3 commissioners voted to put the measure on the February ballot.
Battle Ground officials hope annexation will help solve problems paying for a fire contract. Battle Ground uses 21 percent of its general fund to pay for its contract with Fire District 3, which amounted to roughly $3 million this year. If the city is annexed into the district, fire and emergency services would be paid by taxpayers through a separate fire levy.
According to information from the fire district, the current contract for fire services accounts for $1.35 of the city’s property tax levy, which is $1.37 per $1,000 of assessed property value. At the current rate, the district estimates increased call volume in the city would cause the fire services contract to exceed the city’s general property tax levy in 2021.
The two sides are also looking at securing a longer-lasting partnership because the contract is short term, which prevents the district from investing in capital equipment on a regional basis.
Fire District 3 is also looking for volunteers to serve on “for” and “against” committees relating to the annexation vote. Appointed committee members will write the “for” or “against” statements for submission to the Clark County Elections Office, which will appear in the voters’ guide.
Eligible Fire District 3 committee members must reside within the district boundaries. An application to apply for either committee and additional information on the potential annexation are available online at www.fire3.org/annexation-information or at Station 31, 17718 N.E. 159th St., Brush Prairie. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Thursday.