Regional Fire Authority Planning Committee appoints 5 to advocate pro and con positions


The Regional Fire Authority (RFA) Planning Committee appointed five people who will make up two committees that advocate or oppose the creation of the RFA, which is the subject of the voters' ballot proposition at a special election on April 25.

The planning committee reconvened on Monday, January 23, to fulfill the task required in the RCW 29A.32.280 to formally appoint committees to prepare arguments advocating or opposing the  creation of the proposed RFA.

RCW 29A.332.280 provides that "each committee shall not have more than three members. However, a committee may seek the advice of any person or persons."

Debating teams

Olympia councilmember Lisa Parshley moved to appoint Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, former Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet and former Washington State House Rep. Laurie Dolan to advocate for the RFA. 

Selby is a new member of the RFA planning committee, replacing Olympia council member Yen Huynh.

Olympia councilmember Jim Cooper nominated community members Larry Dzieza and Jim Lazar for the opposition committee but also raised his concern about appointing only two members of the opposing committee. 

Olympia city attorney Mark Barber explained that it is the discretion of the Thurston County Auditor whether they wish to seek a third person. "The statute is clear that [the committee] is up to three members," Barber said.

The voting RFA planning committee members approved the resolution appointing the committees. They will submit the information to the Election Division of the Thurston County Auditor.

In a previous meeting, Barber explained that both committees should submit a written statement supporting or opposing the ballot measure.

Barber said the committees will directly file the statements with the Thurston County Auditor Election Division.

"They will be given an opportunity to provide a rebuttal statement to the opposing side's argument. It has a limitation on how many words they can use making the rebuttal statement," Barber said.

On December 6, both Tumwater and Olympia city councils adopted a joint resolution to submit a ballot proposition to the voters concerning the creation of RFA and approve its governance, operations, and financing plan, including the imposition of the benefit charge.


9 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • Southsoundguy

    Vote NO on this cash grab.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2023 Report this

  • Kruz81

    Despite my live for fire safety this is a horrible idea. The monies that will be collected for frivolous ideas. Adding Pete Kmet guarantees common sense will not occur in these stages.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2023 Report this

  • PCBigLife

    In the consultant’s report the reasons for forming the RFA do not include saving money or improving service. So if we’re not saving money or getting better service, why do it? This means we have the opportunity to spend more money for another layer of management with no noticeable public benefit.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • mathisje

    The Pros have three local political all-stars with decades of experience on how to manipulate people and the contacts to be effective. The Cons have two knowledgeable amateurs. Sounds fair to me. I expect the sales pitch to be lots of fear mongering and a liberal amount of "trust me, we know best'. If emergency services need more funding, there are other ways to raise money, but they require a vote of the people. Allowing commissioners appointed by the cities to raise user fees without voter approval is taxation without representation. Vote No! Make Olympia and Tumwater prove the need, provide alternate funding plans, and let the voters decide each time.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • shirleye2006

    Agree wholeheartedly with mathisje’s assessment!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • TomInOly

    Unless and until I hear a compelling argument based on need and service provided, I will be a no vote. This smells an awful lot like moving these significant expenses off the city’s books to make way for using the funds in other ways, all while increasing costs charged by a new entity that will lack ballot box accountability. The argument about how the funding mechanism is structured is a smoke screen to distract from the lack of a cogent argument in favor of actually making this structural change.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • JulesJames

    I hope we who oppose the RFA will activate supporting Larry Dzieza and Jim Lazar. We can't win being a bunch of one-off ranters. Let them shape the campaign's argument, then let us get out there door-to-door to defeat the RFA monster. I can't decide if I'm opposed because 1) the RFA is absurdly funded by a tax on structures when its work is primarily on crashed vehicles, injured persons and transient encampment fires, or 2) the tax structure is so complicated it missed counting 10 skyscrapers worth of commercial square footage less than six months ago, or 3) smoothly functioning mutual assistance policies invalidate all the economies-of-scale pro-RFA arguments I've heard, or 4) fire protection is a core municipal function. If a municipality determines it cannot provide this independently, perhaps it should dis-incorporate? or 5) The RFA is government deliberately bypassing the 1% levy limits in the Washington State Constitution by creating a new taxing district. I don't like governments dissing on voter intent. Looking forward to the concise argument to beat the RFA beast.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • JW

    The RFA consists of an initial vote requiring a 60% majority, a board of fire commissioners also elected DIRECTLY by the people, and a reauthorization vote of the FBC every six years, again directly by the people.

    But let's all ignore that and continue with the fear mongering that this will be a monolithic and tyrannical organization with zero accountability. Get real people.

    I'd much rather have the fire department determining their needs and spending money than surviving on whatever the cities have to throw at them. I get it; We wish the cities would stop spending millions on useless projects and the transients. But if we expect it to change then we are fools and the fire departments will continue to fall apart and behind while trying to find a solution.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this

  • kipkohl

    " ...The RFA is government deliberately bypassing the 1% levy limits in the Washington State Constitution by creating a new taxing district. I don't like governments dissing on voter intent. Looking forward to the concise argument to beat the RFA beast..."

    The 1% limit is probably the reason the cities are pursuing an RFA. Providing fire/ems services is expensive and is unsustainable within the constraints of the 1% taxing limit imposed on city government. It's not a "money grab" it's an attempt to continue to provide emergency services at the high level we've all grown accustom to.

    As for "dissing voter intent", I think the last six years have shown how voter intent can be misled by lies and mis-information.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 Report this