It’s not going to get better.
Kay Allen’s tenure as Columbia County’s tax commissioner appears to be grinding to a slow, inexorable end.
A criminal investigation file is sitting on District Attorney Ashley Wright’s desk. Federal authorities, including the Internal Revenue Service, have another investigation bearing down. And now the Board of Commissioners appears at the ready to file a civil lawsuit.
It is just a matter of time before Allen will be a former elected official. How and when that happens is still within her control, at least for now.
She could continue to hold out and stall, but that will only serve her interests and not those of the citizens of Columbia County.
In one scenario, Allen could be placed under criminal indictment, on either state or federal charges, a circumstance that would likely cause Georgia’s reluctant governor to remove her from office.
It is also possible that no criminal charges will be filed, and that Allen will use all her will, political might and money to battle the county to a standstill, hanging on until her job is placed in the hands of the electorate in 2016. If a recall effort mounts, that situation might occur much sooner.
Either way, being unelectable, Allen will almost certainly be sent packing by voters.
There is only one scenario, however, in which Allen can exercise a measure of control and demonstrate a sense of responsibility as a constitutional officer of this state. She can step down. Now.
Allen needs to remember that she is not THE tax commissioner. She merely has been elected to serve that role, to fulfill responsibilities of that job.
She has served for more than two decades, but during that time it is clear that she used the position to enrich herself at the cost of the taxpayers.
Perhaps she was allowed to do this by state law, and – if you accept her lawyer’s arguments – perhaps she was unaware that the law had changed affecting her payments from Harlem and Grovetown, and even then she really did nothing criminal in the process.
If that is the case, Allen did nothing more than exploit a flaw in state code to turn a service she was in a position to provide into an easy revenue stream for her personal bank account.
Last year, she was paid an additional $36,000 for collecting city taxes. You can be certain that the vast majority of actual work was performed by county employees, working on county time and using county resources. None of that money went to pay those employees or reimburse the county for its expenses. Is this how a public servant should act?
It is a simple matter – just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Allen has acted in a way that places herself above the people she supposedly serves. She actually thinks she deserves it.
So, while she is working on her next move with her team of attorneys, Allen needs to consider negotiating a settlement with the taxpayers of Columbia County. She needs to come up with a suitable plan to make it right with the people who placed her in office.
Sure, she needs to return the money, but that’s not enough. Her opening offer has to be resignation.