Woodland is seeking to permanently solidify its partnership with Clark County Fire & Rescue.
City councilors voted Monday night to ask residents to decide whether the city will be annexed into the fire district’s coverage area. Voters in the city will need to approve one resolution, and those in the rest of the district will need to approve another — each by a simple majority — on the Aug. 4 primary election ballot.
The city resolution was approved in a 6-0 vote with Councilor Janice Graham absent.
“I think this is the next logical step here for the city,” Woodland City Council Member Benjamin Fredricks said. “I appreciate the partnership with Clark County Fire & Rescue.”
Woodland has contracted with the district for fire and rescue services since 2013. The contract calls for a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for city residents. But under a memorandum of understanding, city property owners currently pay the same rate as permanent district residents — $1.48 per $1,000 this year.
Councilors also voted Monday to reduce property taxes by the same amount as the fire district’s levy rate if annexation is approved. Instead, residents would pay the district directly.
“If the area is annexed into the district, then there’s no reason for the city to collect that money from the citizens anymore, and it’s only fair that it gets returned back to them,” Council Member Dave Plaza said.
The current fire services contract is expected to exceed the city’s property tax collection revenue by 2024. If annexation isn’t approved, city officials say they would need to make cuts to other services.
“We’re trying to make it revenue-neutral,” Woodland City Administrator Peter Boyce said.
Including Woodland, Ridgefield and La Center, the fire district covers over 125 square miles and roughly 40,000 people. Two of the district’s eight stations are located in Woodland.
“It’s been a great partnership for the last seven years,” Clark County Fire & Rescue Chief John Nohr said.
The Clark County Fire & Rescue commission will likely vote March 12 on whether to place the other resolution on the ballot. If voters approve the annexation in August, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.