Olympia City Council starts preparing for mid-year retreat


Olympia city officials began outlining the agenda for the city council’s mid-year retreat, tentatively scheduled on June 18 at the council chamber.

During a meeting on Monday, May 9, City Manager Jay Burney said he consulted with councilmembers Dani Madrone, Dontae Payne and Lisa Parshley on the possible topics for discussions.

The topics include - among other things – the proposed Regional Fire Authority, recession and sustainable budget, and affordable housing.

Burney said he is taking suggestions from the community. “What I have heard so far are ideas that the city council should spend a little more time discussing the proposed Regional Fire Authority (RFA). What are the costs and impacts?” he asked.

“Affordable housing made it to  the list,” he said, adding the topic has a lot of different directions.

Burney said there is also interest in some training around conflict resolution while maintaining respect and relationships among the seven council members. He added they might invite seek professional mediation training from Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County (DRC) .

Both Madrone and Parshley like the idea of DRC training. Madrone is willing to have a workshop with DRC to help council members work through conflict.

Madrone agreed that Regional Fire Authority and affordable housing are great topics to work on, but she would prefer to have those conversations in separate study sessions.

“The retreat is a more focused time for us to figure out how we work together as a council,” commented Madrone, who is also Land Use and Environment Committee chair.

She welcomes the discussions on recession, planning, and sustainable budget. “I think it would be really good to look at our long-term financial strategy… check if it still aligns with how we want to make the budget decisions.”

Councilmember and Community Livability and Public Safety Payne agreed with Madrone that the RFA and affordable housing should have a separate study session.

However, he is willing to make space for the topics if the information is available.

While Payne recognized that the affordable housing topic is important, he said other issues are important too.

Payne said they should work on the list of topics that the council members are eyeing in the upcoming year in the legislative session.

Finance Committee chair Parshley agreed with Madrone about the city council looking at the long-range financial plan.

On the Regional Fire Authority, Parshley said it could potentially be a work session all by itself.

The preparations for the mid-term retreat will be presented to the city council for approval.


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