Orange County Internal Auditor Dr. Peter Hughes has cleared County Administrator/Public Guardian John Williams of any wrongdoing for traveling to community college district conferences while on duty for the county.

In a May 18 letter to County Executive Officer Thomas G. Mauk, Hughes said Williams “complied with County payroll reporting policy for exempt employees.”

Hughes blamed an “awkward and inaccurate payroll” system for putting Williams in the position of signing required time sheets while traveling to conferences for the South Orange County Community College District.

The payroll system cannot accurately reflect the bifurcation of duties where one individual has both elected and exempt employee components taking on two distinct job duties. The timekeeping system required John to account for 80 hours every two weeks to be paid as an exempt Department Head irrespective of time devoted to fulfilling his elected position.

The confusion was eliminated, the letter said, in 2007 when the Board of Supervisors named Williams ex officio Public Guardian.

The letter said for 40 years before that, Orange County had concurrent Public Administrators and Public Guardians, and the person who held the posts received two paychecks each payday.

— TRACY WOOD

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