Kay Allen’s recently discovered failure to remit funding to the county and other authorities isn’t the first time auditors discovered such problems with Columbia County’s tax commissioner, county officials said.
“This is the same thing she was doing a few years ago when she was holding mailing fees from car tags,” Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said.
Cross said the situation was discovered by auditors in December 2009. A report dated Dec. 9, 2009, from the accounting firm Mauldin and Jenkins stated that Allen had accumulated $203,000 in mailing fees from automobile tag payments that she had failed to remit to the county.
“It is our understanding that since postage is paid by the General Fund budget, these mail fees should be turned over to the General Fund of the County,” the report stated. “We recommend that these fees be paid over to the County General Fund as soon as possible.”
Not long after the issue was discovered, Cross said, the commission directed the county finance director to send a letter to Allen asking for the withheld mailing fees. That letter was submitted Dec. 16, 2009, according to county records.
She released the money several months later, only after Cross threatened to report the situation to the governor, he said.
“She just kept saying it was her money, it belonged to her department and she had plans for it,” he said. “I said, ‘Kay, we either got to get that money back today or I will call the governor.’ ”
After he threatened to inform the governor of the situation, Cross said, Allen relented and produced a check for the full amount that had been dated in January.
State law requires tax commissioners each week to turn over “county taxes including, but not limited to, any interest, penalties, or other amounts due the county which they have collected during the week.”
The 2009 incident has similarities to what was uncovered in a recent audit ordered by the county commission in December. The audit examined the tax commissioner’s books and accounts over an 18-month period beginning July 1, 2012.
A draft version of the audit, which is still waiting for Allen’s response, indicates that she failed to remit more than $93,000 owed the county and other taxing authorities and that the tax commissioner used a tax trust fund to pay credit card expenses before being reimbursed by the county. Allen then repaid the tax funds with the reimbursement.
The audit also confirmed that Allen had received $57,500 in fees from Grovetown and Harlem in the past two years as payments for tax collection services.
Commissioners contend the fees are contrary to state law, a claim that Allen, through her attorney, has denied.