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Columbia County commissioners report 'malfeasance' to govenor's office

Posted: December 25, 2013 - 1:07am
Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen is compensated 2 percent of total property taxes collected in Harlem and Grovetown.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen is compensated 2 percent of total property taxes collected in Harlem and Grovetown.

The Columbia County Commission voted Monday morning to send an official letter to Gov. Nathan Deal reporting “possible malfeasance” on the part of Tax Commissioner Kay Allen.

Commision Chairman Ron Cross said he and the other commissioners were obligated to notify the governor under state law.

“The action taken here today brings no joy to this commission. It neither supports nor condemns the alleged conduct of the tax commisioner,” said Cross in a statement following the vote. “By law, each of us is required to report any suspicions of misconduct to the governor.”

The malfeasance cited in the letter refers to Allen’s fees from with the cities of Grovetown and Harlem to collect taxes “which she retained as personal compensation that should have been remitted to the county.”

Accord­ing to records acquired by the News-Times, since 2009 Allen collected more than $160,000 in personal compensation from the two cities for those services. Allen has acknowlegded that those payments were fees she kept for herself.

The commission’s letter states that practice is a “clear violation” of state law, which says “the governing authority, not the tax commissioner, may contract with municipalities to accept, receive and retain compensation if the county had more than 50,000 parcels.”

Columbia County passed the 50,000-parcel threshold in 2009, two years after the law went into effect.

The letter also says Allen was made aware of the changes in the law in a 2007 state training for tax commissioners conducted by the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Grovetown and Harlem officials have said they thought the payments were going to the county, not to Allen’s bank account.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office wrapped up its investigation into the matter last week and forwarded its files to District Attorney Ashley Wright.

According to the commission’s letter to the governor, “no less that two federal law enforcement agencies” are also investigating the tax commissioner’s side deals withe the two cities.

Commissioner’s ap-proved the letter unani­mously, except for Com-missioner Charles Allen, Kay Allen’s husband, who recused himself.

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