Columbia County commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday directing the Board of Elections to fill the vacant offices of tax commissioner and District 3 commissioner.
County Attorney Chris Driver said the resolution was necessary to allow the elections board to move forward with plans to hold a special election in November to fill the seats vacated by former Tax Commissioner Kay Allen and her husband, Charles Allen, the former District 3 commissioner. The two resigned two weeks ago, ending a prolonged battle with the commission over fees Kay Allen had been paid by the cities of Grovetown and Harlem for tax collection services.
Since her resignation, Kay Allen’s duties have been taken on by Deputy Tax Commissioner Steve Adams. The District 3 seat will remain empty until after the special election, officials said.
Gov. Nathan Deal acknowledged and accepted Kay Allen’s resignation March 7, but the county did not receive notice from the governor until March 14 that Charles Allen’s resignation had been accepted. The Board of Elections will have to meet and take official action to set the special election date, which should coincide with the Nov. 4 general election, Driver said.
Commissioners also approved a resolution setting qualifying fees for the offices, based on 3 percent of each position’s base pay. The qualifying fee for tax commissioner will be $2,173, and the fee for the commission seat will be $195. Qualifying dates will be set by the Board of Elections.
In other business, commissioners unanimously approved giving official support to a letter drafted by Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young protesting the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent decision to suspend funding and construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication plant at Savannah River Site. The letter to Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz is on behalf of the “Five-County Council Chairs in the SRS Region” – Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Columbia and Richmond counties – and expresses “extreme disappointment” over the DOE decision to mothball the project, which began construction in 2007 in order to turn 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel.
Commissioner Ron Thigpen said he understood that shutting down the project would affect about 1,800 workers at SRS, many of whom live in Columbia County. Commissioners voted unanimously to support the letter.