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News / Clark County News

Battle Ground hikes impact fees to aid fire district

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: December 30, 2021, 3:37pm

The city of Battle Ground has upped the impact fee on new development to fund expansion for Clark County Fire District 3, which also serves Brush Prairie and surrounding rural areas.

The district said in a news release it plans to save the money to build a new fire station in about 10 years. In the past, the department has also used impact fee funding to replace equipment, like a fire engine, which can cost a half-million dollars.

Beginning the first of the year, the one-time fee for a new single-family home in Battle Ground will be $696, the news release states. The fee for a multifamily structure will be $327 per unit and a nonresidential building will be charged 85 cents per square foot.

The previous impact fee was established in 2018 at $555 for single-family homes, $248 per unit for multifamily homes and 59 cents per square foot for nonresidential buildings.

Fire Chief Scott Sorenson said Fire District 3’s population is expected to nearly double in the next 20 years. On average, the city has collected $187,000 a year in impact fees.

“We want to make sure that new growth pays for itself,” Sorenson said in a news release. “Growth triggers the need for additional facilities and apparatus to respond to 911 calls. It’s fair that new development helps pay for the imbedded costs associated with providing emergency services through impact fees.”

Fire District 3, and other departments serving the unincorporated areas of Clark County, are continuing to ask the county council to approve impact fees on those areas to fund expanded services.

“Impact fees mean our taxpayers pay less in property taxes and interest payments by reducing what we need to borrow to build a new station,” Sorenson said. “We are grateful to the city for its support, and will continue to reach out to the county council members for help. Our taxpayers and their constituents are the same people.”

In a Capital Facilities Plan published on the district’s website, the agency estimates the cost of a new 20,000-square-foot fire station in Battle Ground to be $11.6 million. Over the next 20 years, the department also lists a need for a new station in an unincorporated area of the county, along with a training tower, four pumper trucks, two squad vehicles, six staff vehicles and one ambulance/rehab vehicle in order to keep up with predicted growth. Those things are estimated to cost $22 million, and the agency attributes nearly half of the cost to new growth.

Between the fire district’s five stations, the department receives more than 4,000 calls for service per year, according to the facilities plan. By 2035, the agency expects those calls to double.

Currently, 62 percent of the calls come to Battle Ground’s Station 35 at 505 S.W. First St. The 5,700-square-foot station was built in 1979 and is owned by the city.

The second-busiest is Station 31 at 17718 N.E. 159th St. in Hockinson. It receives 21 percent of the calls. That station is 16,000 square feet and was built in 1994.