Columbia County OKs audit of tax commissioner

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The Columbia County Commission voted Tuesday night to authorize a “complete and full audit” of Tax Commissioner Kay Allen’s office.

Allen
Allen

Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office into Allen’s agreements for additional compensation from Grovetown and Harlem was “an unfortunate situation,” but something the commission needed to address.

The vote to authorize the audit was unanimous except for Commissioner Charles Allen, who recused himself because he is married to the tax commissioner.

Commissioner Trey Allen said the audit should go beyond the scope of regular audits of county departments – including the Tax Commissioner’s Office – which already occur.

County Administrator Scott Johnson said he will select one of the accounting firms the county already uses to perform the audit.

“I don’t anticipate going to a third-party firm,” Johnson said. “I just need to determine who has the most expertise in this area.”

The controversy over Allen’s contracts with the cities has been percolating behind the scenes since October, when officials became aware that sheriff’s investigators were working with the FBI to look into allegations against the tax commissioner.

Over the past two decades, Allen has collected thousands in additional pay for providing tax services to the two municipalities. In the past five years, those payments have meant more than $160,000 in direct compensation for Allen.

Grovetown and Harlem officials have said they were under the impression the payments for services were going to the county budget, not to Allen’s pocketbook.

“We thought we were paying the county,” said Grovetown Mayor George James III, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

James said that as far as he knew, Grovetown never filed any Internal Revenue Service documents or supplied Allen with any IRS forms that would customarily be associated with income payments.

The city’s most recent check for tax collection services, dated Oct. 5 for $29,000, was made out to “Columbia County Tax Commission Attention: Kay Allen.”

Allen has acknowledged that she collects additional compensation and maintains that state law allows her to do so. Other tax commissioners around the state also have such agreements, but not all.

State law, which was enacted in 2007, allows such direct compensation for tax commissioners, but only in counties that have fewer than 50,000 parcels. In counties with more than 50,000 parcels, the county itself must enter into such agreements and can, in turn, pay the tax commissioner for providing the service. Columbia County had passed the 50,000-parcel threshold by 2009, officials said.

State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, who wrote the 2007 legislation, said the intent was to stop tax commissioners from benefitting from deals such as the agreements made by Allen.

“It’s improper,” Willard said. “That is using (county resources) to benefit the tax commissioner personally.”

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Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 01:58 pm
6
0
Yes, Riverman,

And speaking of bank accounts...that's another interesting audit trail. What bank would allow Allen to open an account in the name of Columbia County without a signed resolution by the CC Commission?

Without opening a corporate account, she would have been depositing into her personal account. My experience with banking is that a corporate/business check cannot go into a personal account.

I am proud of my county though, in that they are moving ahead with an immediate and full audit of the department.

Riverman1
84226
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 02:08 pm
8
1
Willow, that was good info

Willow, that was good info about the special envelopes that went directly to her. As far as how she cashed the checks, I suspect it could be the bank was very lenient when they saw her name on the checks and chose to ignore the county part thinking she was above reproach. If it's the same bank that handles the millions in Columbia County tax payments, they are not about to anger the Tax Commissioner.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/18/13 - 02:25 pm
2
9
Hmmm.

Kinda looks like a disgruntled, former employee has some Law Enforcement connections to me. I doubt very seriously that there is anything illegal going on here. It is actually a very common practice with smaller cities from what i've heard. Perhaps we should all withhold judgement until it pans out completely...

itsanotherday1
43363
Points
itsanotherday1 12/18/13 - 02:55 pm
8
0
Navy, I don't need to

Navy, I don't need to withhold judgement; I'm firm in my opinions with the facts as they are. I can't imagine any further information under which I would giver her a pass. She needs to go, if nothing else, for her arrogance alone.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/18/13 - 03:22 pm
1
6
itsanotherday1, You may be right...

But.... Look at the unflattering picture, the way this story is being portrayed in print and on TV. She is guilty even if she's not in the eyes of many, based on the negative portrayal she has received. I'm just saying this hasn't been an issue for years. It has just become so due to a recent firing of an employee. I don't know the lady or the person that was fired, I'm just saying it seems like she ticked off someone that DOES know somebody....lol. Happy Holidays to Everyone!!

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 12/18/13 - 03:22 pm
4
0
Welcome!

Welcome Navy Gary, I see this is your first post. Enjoy the comments section.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/18/13 - 03:24 pm
2
2
Thanks augusta citizen!

Greatly appreciated! Happy Holidays

truthfinder
123
Points
truthfinder 12/18/13 - 04:17 pm
3
3
Law enforcement connections

Yes, one of the disgruntled employee's good friends is Jimmy Vowell. Does that name ring a bell to anyone? Enough said.

John Locke
345
Points
John Locke 12/18/13 - 04:19 pm
6
0
An atmosphere of fear

For years I've detected from the news stories, talking to Columbia County employees, as well as school system employees, there seems to be an atmosphere of fear in the county. Why are people scared? Who are they afraid of? What type of power instills that level of fear so much that a grown man is degraded to wander around a public store at the whim of his boss? That's called tyranny - tyranny of power and I feel sorry for those who have to work for the county in any capacity. They are scared. Why?

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 04:20 pm
9
0
Welcome Navy Gary... It is a

Welcome Navy Gary...
It is a comment venue.... So don't be surprised by the comments!
Merry Christmas to you!

And BTW, it's only an issue today, because in the past it was a secret.
Mrs. Allen should have 1099s or a letter to and from the Commission regarding the practice if it is legitimate.

Dwight Johnson did the right thing by reporting the practice and his firing after being told to walk around Kroger at taxpayer expense.
That recorded phone call is insanity on her part. It's unfortunate and disappointing; but this is serious business.

Elected officials work for the taxpayers...it's time they all understand that.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/18/13 - 04:45 pm
7
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Thanks Willow!! Merry Christmas!!

I had no idea about the "Kroger" thing. If that's true, she should be canned for that alone. I mean who does that kind of thing from a position of government authority and for what reason? (Weird for sure!) If the "money trail" leads to any wrongdoings (failure to report the income to the IRS or forging of the checks for deposit), she may be looking at more than just losing her position as Tax Commissioner. She may joining the gang at Charles Walkers' new half-way house after a stint in the hoosegow....lol.

Marinerman1
4859
Points
Marinerman1 12/18/13 - 04:48 pm
5
0
@ Willow and Riverman - I had

@ Willow and Riverman - I had posted earlier that it would seem to have to an audit trail where the money went into the County account, and then into hers, I would think, based upon how the checks were filled out. Maybe not, maybe it is like you said -- don't upset the Tax Commissioner...!

CobaltGeorge
159487
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/18/13 - 05:02 pm
3
1
Sure

hate the thought of the resurrection of the Good Boy Systemthat was living and live back when I came here in 1972! Back then this wasn't news just daily action.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 05:03 pm
4
0
LOL, Marinerman, not unless

LOL, Marinerman, not unless you want to walk your behind around Kroger all day! Come on, now, at least send me to the Evans Towne Center Park!!

Riverman1
84226
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 05:10 pm
4
0
Effect On Congressional Race

Mariner, you had a good idea to follow the money in any case.

In any case, most thinking readers have gotten the idea of what was going on by now. Now for the effect on the Congressional race and the whole clan. I have to believe since they work as a trio that this damages the political power-influence-aspirations of all of them. They KNEW what she was doing. Let me ask any Rick Allen supporters, are they working as a group?

Riverman1
84226
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 05:31 pm
4
2
If I Had To Walk Around Kroger All Day, I'd Do What...

Let's get creative:

I'd tell the manager what was up and tell him I'd pay for everything. I'd push a cart around, slowly and I'd take a beer on every pass by the beer aisle. A bag of chips would be mine. Every pretty lady would be smiled at...at least. Those who smiled back would be shown my tax commission card or whatever they have. I would follow up with the pretty shoppers later. If Mrs. Allen demanded that I keep walking, I'd start on the outside where the vegs and meat are and eventually work my way to the manufactured food aisles. I would also try to get a pretty woman or two to accompany me with my shopping by telling them I was being filmed for a TV show or something. If it seems like all my ideas go back to women, it's the story of my life. By the end of the day there would be bent beer cans, potato chip bags with only those little crumbs left that I didn't feel comfortable turning up the bag and shaking into my mouth and a very few cards with telephone numbers I discarded in my cart.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 05:38 pm
5
0
I got a better plan, River, I

I got a better plan, River, I would have been campaigning for "Columbia County Tax Commissioner"at Kroger duty...LOL.

Riverman1
84226
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 05:47 pm
5
1
Willow, heh, heh, heh. If she

Willow, heh, heh, heh. If she had come down to the store with her whip and saw him campaigning with the sign with HIS name on it, we would have had an accident on aisle 3 as the tail of the whip knocked Heinz Ketchup bottles off the shelf on the back swing.

Stand up
15
Points
Stand up 12/18/13 - 05:48 pm
6
0
FBI better check more

How many other employees of the famous Mrs. Allen questioned her on her standards and then got pushed out. I don't think Dwight is the only one! She has a history of getting rid of her threats. FBI check the previous employees in the past 5 years that have been let go for ???? reasons. She thinks she is God...God doesn't burn! Other employees lost a lot more than thier jobs...does she have a conscious? I feel awful for the people who paid taxes and did with out while she took their money and ???paid taxes on it???? I hope the audit finds the truth and maybe she can feel the pain she dished out to others. Payback Mrs. Allen!!!

Aceman
111
Points
Aceman 12/18/13 - 05:55 pm
2
0
Where is this recording to be found

Is it on the Chronicle web site

Lee Benedict
1585
Points
Lee Benedict 12/18/13 - 06:17 pm
4
2
So?

zazzy, I do not dislike Trey Allen, and even if I do, so what? The facts are no less factual, are they not? The fact that the suit stems from his business is of no matter because a sitting commissioner was sued for not paying rent for 18 months after taking $28,500 from the landlord because the store was not ready for Allen on time. Follow closely:
go back the last five years and look at what local media deemed newsworthy. Politicians' pets. A builder's spelling error. So on and so forth.
go back the last five years and look at what local media deemed not newsworthy. A commissioner getting sued for $80,000+ in back rent, allegedly not paid. Two sitting judges each making at least one speech in support of a candidate when GA judicial canons forbid doing such. Two sitting judges serving on a campaign committee when GA judicial canons forbid doing such, AND, somehow, past Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports being altered and the judges' names removed and replaced with others. I have proof of it and let local media know. Actually, an anonymous blog mentioned some of this, and I will not name the blog because the person(s) who runs it refuse to reveal their identities.

Now back to Trey Allen. His store's location isn't ready so he gets 28.5k cash money. He stays there for 18 months allegedly rent-free when the lease calls for a $4,500 monthly payment. Do the math. A sitting commissioner is sued. The suit is dismissed with prejudice, meaning, it can be filed again. Please, PLEASE, look it up - Superior Court of Columbia County, Civil Action File No.: 2009CV0940 and then ask yourself if the matter was a kickback/down payment arrangement. Over $80,000 in rent plus $28,500 cash is substantial.

Ask yourself why the tenant was not evicted after a month or two. Ask yourself why the landlord did not cause a stink and why the tenant's namesake franchise was not dragged into the mess. At the end of the day, a commissioner stayed rent-free from 10/26/2007 until 04/01/2009, and, pocketed $28,500, and, the lawsuit resulting in nothing keeps it all above the table with a paper trail. Add to this the fact that the media never reported on any of this. There may very well be a reasonable explanation of the facts, but, years of silence removes any benefit of any doubt.

I will be among the first to state that there are so many rules, codes, regulations, edicts, and laws that there is no way for all candidates and officeholders to know or be aware of them. But come on. Signs a lease, takes $28,500, doesn't pay rent for 18 months. Tell me that that situation is legitimate.

So again zazzy, I do not dislike the man. I have visited him at his store's first two locations and have recommended his store to many people. I just happen to be one of those people who hold elected officials to a higher degree of honesty and transparency, and, one who holds Republicans to a higher standard. I will not look the other way just because of party affiliation or whether or not I like him.

Riverman1
84226
Points
Riverman1 12/18/13 - 06:23 pm
7
0
Lee, I agree you have some

Lee, I agree you have some powerful points about Trey Allen, but it's kind of out of place on this thread is all I'm saying.

LillyfromtheMills
13309
Points
LillyfromtheMills 12/18/13 - 06:34 pm
2
0
Oh Harley

I'm so glad you're back!!!!

Lee Benedict
1585
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Lee Benedict 12/18/13 - 06:45 pm
3
2
Who knows who

is of no significance. So what if the deputy tax guy knows some people in law enforcement? It does not make the facts less true. Kay Allen is entitled to her day in court. That said, that pertains to criminal and civil procedures and venues, not what is expressed by we the people.

As for the unflattering photograph displayed right now (a different one was posted earlier), it really doesn't matter, does it? If people actually base their opinion of this or any other investigation on a photo of the accused, we're in trouble. Having said that, Kay Allen's picture selected by this paper and Charles Walker's picture displayed on the same day by the same paper...completely different portrayals, and, one was convicted on 100+ counts whereas the other is being investigated at this time.

IMHO, she should have already resigned for the "abuse of power" Kroger thing. Regarding the money, if what's been reported by The Augusta Chronicle is true, then it appears as though she went to great lengths to conceal payments that she claims were contractual.

We also have to ask the question of how one could be so brazen as to flaunt such behavior. I said it before and I'll say it again here; Columbia County is very red, and just as Richmond County is very blue, when a political party has such an overwhelming majority of local government with no real or perceived threat of it changing anytime soon, you will get the shenanigans displayed with gusto by both counties. To this, the fact that many in Columbia County have the mindset of, "My street's safe", and, "My kid's school's good", translates to incumbents getting reelected regardless of what they have done.

Lee Benedict
1585
Points
Lee Benedict 12/18/13 - 06:50 pm
2
3
Riverman,

granted, this thread is about Kay Allen's alleged whatever, but, I just had to point out the media's handling of one Allen versus its handling of another Allen. This is why I did not go into more detail last night. But zazzy addressed me and/or my comment, so I went into more detail with the hopes that his/her misconceptions would be explained to his/her satisfaction.

Lee Benedict
1585
Points
Lee Benedict 12/18/13 - 07:00 pm
2
3
"If it's the same bank that

"If it's the same bank that handles the millions in Columbia County tax payments, they are not about to anger the Tax Commissioner."

This is interesting in that, last I knew, Columbia County had 32 different bank accounts with the same bank, and surprise surprise, a sitting commissioner is an executive of that bank. But if the Tax Commissioner becomes angry with a bank, can she really do anything? And if she could, what would it be, and, so what if the Tax Commissioner becomes angry? As long as bank personnel adhered to banking rules and whatnot, all "should" be well. If she became angry and caused a stink, at the end of the day the bank would say that she attempted a transaction that was not kosher and let the snowball roll from there.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 12/18/13 - 07:03 pm
3
1
Zazzy's comments were puzzling...

Thanks, Lee, for clearing that up. You do have a great talent for discovery, remembering the events and getting to the bottom of things, while remaining respectful, open minded and fair. I appreciate that in you and I'm sorry that I missed your book signing at the Mall. Looking forward to picking up a copy of it though. Congratulations on it!

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 12/18/13 - 08:53 pm
1
0
You're welcome!

You're welcome Navy Gary! Merry Christmas!

Lee Benedict
1585
Points
Lee Benedict 12/18/13 - 08:53 pm
1
0
Thanks Willow,

I have 100+ books and I don't know when it will be on shelves in stores, but, it is visible on some websites (Amazon, Wal-Mart). If you want a copy or two, just email me. Thanks!

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