LEESBURG, Ga. -- Bill Williams and Dennis Roland have been sitting elbow to elbow on the Lee County Commission for the past four years.
That changes at the first meeting of the Lee board this month when Greg Frich joins the governing body after defeating Williams in November for the District 5 post.
Williams is returning to devote time to his private accounting business, but he will be missed, several county officials say.
"He's a good friend," Roland said. "I talk to him every day about everything, not just county business, but personal stuff too. I am sure Mr. Frich will be an asset, but Bill will be truly missed on my part."
"I talked to him about an hour today (Thursday) and I'll still talk to Bill about issues."
Roland said he would not be opposed to utilizing Williams in a consulting role.
"He got Grand Island on track to where it is not costing the county money," Roland said. "He is good with dollars."
County Administrator Tony Massey said it was comforting to have access to Williams' accounting expertise at budget time.
"Bill Williams is a wealth of knowledge in local government financing," Massey said. From that perspective, it was a lot easier on all of us regarding county budget and financial issues," Massey said.
"I can say his heart was in the right place. He was a very committed public servant trying to make Lee County the best he could and it was a pleasure working with him."
During Williams' final meeting as a commissioner in December, Chairman Ed Duffy commended the outgoing official for his service the past four years as chairman of the budget committee.
"Bill has prepared a balanced budget every year with no property tax increases, no employee furloughs and no employee layoffs during the worst economic times that Lee County has known."
Duffy said Williams helped prepare a budget that included three cost-of-living pay hikes during the past four years, and helped increase the county surplus to more than $1.8 million.
Williams' financial planning, Duffy said, helped the commission add 29 public safety employees in the past three years. Other achievements included building a new fire-EMS station, an animal shelter and a new library-conference center.
'All of this was accomplished with no tax increase," Duffy said. "All I am trying to say, Bill, is thanks to you for your financial expertise for moving Lee County forward while so many surrounding counties have had their financial woes...Lee County is going to miss the heck out of you."
Many Lee political observers believe Williams lost the election primarily because of his support of placing delinquent trash bills on property tax bills. His opponents viewed that move, which was eventually rejected, as a tax increase.
Williams, who received a standing ovation from county officials and visitors at his final commission meeting, was touched by the response.
"I am proud of the progress this county has made in the last four years." he said. "It's been a privilege to serve with ya'll."