Williams retiring as Southampton finance director

Published 11:24 am Saturday, June 5, 2010

COURTLAND—Southampton County Finance Director Julia Williams, who has worked for the county for more than 38 years, will retire in August.

“Julia is as dependable as they come,” Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said Thursday. “Regardless of the time it takes, she’ll stick with something until it’s finished. Nights, weekends, holidays—she’s worked hundreds of them over the course of her career, not because she was asked, but because of her own high standards.”

Williams said she plans to spend more time with her husband, Harold, her two children and four grandchildren. She and Harold live on a farm off Clarksbury Road, about three miles from Boykins.

“I really have loved my job,” Williams said. “I plan to go to more ball games and things like that. I just don’t have enough time now. I’ll miss working with Mike because he’s an excellent person to work for. I’ll miss my co-workers.”

“But, I guess most of all, I will miss the detailed work that I do,” the 66-year-old added. “I really enjoy working with numbers and I want everything to come out to the penny.”

Williams is a Southampton County High School graduate. She attended college. Her first job with the county was at the correctional center, where she worked for more than four years.

“My child came early, so I decided to stay home awhile,” Williams said. “I think I had been home for about nine months when the county administrator at the time called and asked if I would please come to work for him for two days.”

That was 1972.

“I’ve been here since then,” Williams laughed. “I’ve just gradually moved up.”

According to an advertisement for the finance director position, the county is looking for someone to manage a staff of two. Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree in accounting, business administration or a related field. The county would also prefer a candidate who is a certified public accountant.

“I’m not a CPA,” Williams quipped. “I just have the years.”

Johnson said Williams has served the county extremely well over the years.

“She’s managed millions of dollars in state and federal grants, and always made sure the paperwork was complete,” Johnson said. “I’ve never had to worry about compliance audits, or any audit for that matter. Her files are always impeccably neat, in order and well-documented.”

Although Williams is the third-highest paid county employee — after Sheriff Vernie Francis Jr. and Johnson — with an annual salary of $96,494, the starting salary for her replacement has been advertised in the mid-$60,000 range, depending on qualifications. Applications are scheduled to be reviewed beginning June 28.

“While I’m confident we’ll find a well-qualified successor, there will be no replacement for Julia,” Johnson said. “There is no replacing 38 years of experience.”