Riffe delays retirement for a year

By Wayne Allen

October 8, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

On Tuesday Scioto County Commissioner Skip Riffe announced he will be delaying his previously announced retirement for one year. During his announcement Riffe said he will not be seeking reelection to a seventh term, but wishes to fill his obligations to Scioto County voters and carry out his current term.

“After a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to finish my term,” Riffe said. “I will not be retiring at the end of (20)13, I will be retiring at the end of (20)14. Having said that, I want to be clear, there is no possiblility that I’ll be running, I will not be candidate in (20)14.”

Riffe was first elected in 1990. After fulfilling his term, it will be the first time since 1947 that a Riffe will not be on an official ballot in Scioto County. Combining three generations (Vern Riffe Sr., Vern Riffe Jr. and Vern Riffe III) have served more than 80 years of elected public service.

Asked why he decided to fill remainder of his term, Riffe said, “It really boiled down to an obligation I feel to finish the term. The people elected me to a four-year term and it’s important that I finish it.”

Riffe gave praise to the work that’s been done and is being done to make the county a better place for its residents.

Riffe said he is also grateful for the relationship he has developed with fellow Commissioners Mike Crabtree and Doug Coleman.

“I also want to be here when we get out of fiscal emergency, that’s important for me. I was here when we got in it and would like to be here when we officially get out of it. I think we are very close to that,” Riffe said.

In July, Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost released a report of accounting methods for Scioto County. Within the report, conditions were outlined in which the Scioto County Financial Planning and Supervision Commission would exist. According to the report on Aug. 19, 2009, Scioto County was declared in a state of fiscal emergency. As a result of the declaration, a Financial Planning and Supervision Commission was established.

In the section of the report titled ‘Governance Overview,’ it states the (financial planning and supervision) commission will continue in existence until the Auditor of State, or the commission itself, determines that an effective financial accounting and reporting system is in the process of being implemented, and is expected to be completed within two years.

All of the fiscal emergency conditions have been corrected or eliminated, and no new emergency conditions have occurred. The objectives of the financial recovery plan are being met and the board of commissioners has prepared a financial forecast for a five-year period and such forecast is, in the Auditor of State’s opinion, “nonadverse.”

Once these requirements are satisfied, the commission will be terminated.

“We, as commissioners, we’re responsible (for the conditions that surrounded the county being places under a financial status with the state), I’m not shying away from that at all. We were a victim circumstance,” Riffe said.

Riffe said he has been pleased with the way the county and it’s employees responded to the situation, which has allowed the county to return to positive fund balances.

Riffe said with the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) he is able to purchase seven years of services, so when he retires he will technically have 30 years of service.

Coleman said he was thankful to Riffe for committing to finishing his term.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Skip and am glad he made this decision, he’s been good to work with,” Coleman said.

Crabtree expressed similar sentiments.

“We’ve done a lot of things this past year and we’ve all been on the same page with those decisions and that should be obvious to everyone in Scioto County that we’ve not been down here struggling and fighting among ourselves,” Crabtree. “We are going to be out of fiscal emergency and he (Riffe) will be here to see that happen. Throughout this process we’ve struggled through some bad times and hopefully we are going to see some better times here in the next few months and years.”

Scioto County Democrat Party Chairman Randy Basham in reaction to Riffe’s announcement said, “We were hoping he would run one more term after this one. If he is going to stay the full term, that’s good. We will now not have to appoint a commissioner, if he had left after the first of the year. This means the primary will be wide open.”

According to the Scioto County Board of Elections thus far, Will Mault has filed petitions to run for commissioner as a republication and Don Hadsell has taken out petitions but has not filed as of yet as a democrat.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.