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Longtime Ferry auditor settling into retirement

MARTINS FERRY — Less than a month after retiring as auditor for the Purple City, Rita Randall says she is settling into her non-work life but misses the job and her coworkers.

Randall spent the last 28 years in the position before announcing her retirement in October due to ongoing health issues. She served out her final day in office on Dec. 31.

“I miss it terribly. I loved the job, I loved my girls, the work in my office. I think the world of them. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t think about them and even through the stressful times, because there is stress in that job, but I miss them terribly,” she said.

Randall had triple bypass surgery four years ago. Since then she has incurred numerous health issues leading to her “early retirement” at the age of 81.

She served her first term in office in 1990. After losing one term in ’99, she was later re-elected to the position in 2003, remaining in office until this year.

Randall said she was always a fan of accounting, but her favorite part of the job was interacting with people.

“When you enter the world of government accounting, it’s a whole new ballgame. … The people I worked with, I enjoyed the people who would call me or come in or wanted explanations of why,” she said.

A fond memory Randall recalled was when she helped get the city get computerized and away from hand posting around 1995.

“It was very tedious,” she said, adding that it helped make the office more efficient. “That was one of my main goals when I got in there.”

Though she will miss the residents and her coworkers, she said she will not miss the city budget and keeping the departments in line with it. Working to keep department heads within their allotted budget was one of the hardest aspects of the job, she said.

“We all had to work together but nonetheless, the auditor is usually always the bad guy,” she said, adding that she took the blame for the city not being able to give raises or pay for expenses.

“… Most people do not realize what it takes to operate a city.”

Randall also noted that something that has bothered her is that many residents assumed the Regional Income Tax Agency, also known as RITA, was her doing due to the acronym for its name.

“I can’t tell you how many times when I would be out campaigning or talking to people, that’s all I would hear. ‘It’s your fault that we have this income tax.’ No. And trying to get people to understand that the RITA is not me. That was probably the hardest point of it,” she said.

Randall said she wishes the city the best in the future.

“I hope they can continue operating as we have been. I see we finished out the year the way we should have so we would have the money to go into the new year. The first two months of the year are always hard because we don’t get any big money coming in. We get the city income tax coming in and the water, sewer and sanitation – those are monthly bills – but that’s not an issue. The city has to stand on income tax until property tax starts coming in, so it’s always a battle at the end of the year because it always seems like we have a major calamity at the end of the year where we have to change the budget. It’s not an easy place to be in,” she said.

Randall said her health has begun to improve over the last couple weeks and that she is feeling better. She said she misses the job but feels the stress would only exacerbate her health.

She said in her retirement, so long as her health continues to improve, she plans to craft and quilt – two pastimes she is very fond of.

“I’m a quilter and crafter in general. I love to do crafts. In between all the problems in the last three years with my health, I haven’t been able to do any of those things. Mornings have been, and still are, really rough on me,” she added.

The Democratic Committee is seeking applicants to fill the office, as Randall’s unexpired term does not end until 2026.

Although she originally ran on the Democratic ticket, Randall changed her party affiliation to Republican in 2020; however, the party she was elected under must select a replacement. Anyone interested in the position can mail a resume to Phil Wallace at 801 Spring Haven Drive, Martins Ferry, OH 43935.

In the meantime, Deputy Auditor Tricia Headley has taken on the duties until the appointment. Randall noted that Headley’s hiring was the “best thing to ever happen to the office.”

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