It’s not a smoking gun.
But it also isn’t the kind of evidence that helps Tax Commissioner Kay Allen’s claim that she wasn’t aware of a change in state law that could have an effect on lucrative contracts she had with Grovetown and Harlem for the collection of city property taxes.
The state Department of Revenue supplied some documents this week that indicate Allen attended training in Athens in May 2007 that included information on the change to the law.
The documents show that the issue of tax commissioner’s compensation was specifically addressed and that Allen received credit for attending the class. However, the documents don’t rule out the possibility that Allen might have stepped out to the ladies room and missed something important.
Allen’s high-powered lawyer, Doug Chalmers Jr. makes some good points in her defense, which one would expect.
He says the statute isn’t as clear-cut as everyone seems to think it is. Chalmers says that when the law changed in 2007, it didn’t yet apply to Columbia County, which was still below the law’s 50,000-parcel threshold.
Chalmers also says that Allen, like all state and county officials, received training each year on dozens of subjects and changes to various policies and laws. How are they supposed to remember them all?
Of course, these are good points and they ultimately might be what keeps prosecutors on the sidelines while Chalmers and attorney’s hired by Columbia County come to an agreeable resolution.
But it sort of boils down to one thing: What did Kay Allen know?
It is true that in 2007, the law did not apply to Columbia County. But if she did receive training on the law and its impact, it is hard to believe that Allen would not have noted how this change might affect her future earnings (considering that booming Columbia County was adding hundreds of parcels each year).
Is it possible that the impact of the law didn’t register and it flew under the radar until someone pointed it out last year? Sure.
Is it also possible that Allen was aware of the law but was too attached to the more than $30,000 per year in extra pay from Grovetown and Harlem that she stood to lose? Perhaps.
Only one person knows for sure, and she isn’t talking.