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June 24, 2021

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Battle Ground considers doubling city street maintenance budget

Final adoption of proposals expected in December

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter

Battle Ground officials might double funding for city street maintenance in next year’s budget.

Public Works Director Mark Herceg recently submitted a $2.27 million proposal for the city’s street fund as part of the 2021 budget process. This year’s budget reserves nearly $1.02 million for the fund.

The fund is used to maintain streets as well as other road features — sidewalks, traffic signals, lighting and landscaping.

Voters in February approved the city’s annexation into Clark County Fire District 3’s coverage area. Beginning next year, city property owners will pay a levy rate of $1.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value to the district.

Residents currently pay a property tax to the city, which then pays the fire district for services. The current contract with the fire district consumes nearly all of the city’s property tax revenue. In 2019, it sapped about $3 million from city coffers.

Prior to the upcoming budget cycle, the city has funded road maintenance and repair projects through $20 transportation benefit district fees, which are paid by residents who renew car tabs. The annual revenue typically tops out around $290,000.

But effective next year, the city has cut the fee.

Instead, with the revenue freed up from the annexation, city officials promised additional funding for several services, including long-desired large street maintenance and preservation projects. Of the total proposed street fund budget, $935,600 would be earmarked specifically for road maintenance and repair, including crack and slurry sealing, road markings and striping.

One such maintenance project will repair Northwest 29th Avenue in the Lewisville neighborhood, Herceg said in a news release.

“This is a huge boost to the city’s pavement preservation and repair program,” Herceg said. “These roads take a much higher level of repair compared to the preservation work we’ve done the last several years.”

The Battle Ground City Council will continue to review budget proposals during public study sessions over the next few months. Final adoption is expected in December, following several opportunities for public comments.

The council approved a $43,737,770 budget for 2020.

Columbian county government and small cities reporter