Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen has 10 days to explain her actions to Gov. Nathan Deal – or face removal from office.
So said a letter sent Tuesday from the governor’s office in response to a Dec. 23 letter from the Columbia County Commission that sought Deal’s intervention in a controversy over Allen’s receiving thousands in additional compensation for collecting taxes for Harlem and Grovetown.
Commissioners contend that the payments, which amount to more than $30,000 each year, should have gone to the county to reimburse it for expenses and use of resources to collect the city taxes, not into Allen’s personal bank account.
“The Columbia County Board of Commissioners has provided to this office information which indicates the Commission believes fees have been collected from municipalities contrary to state law,” the governor’s letter states. It says Allen must “show just cause” as to why she “should not be removed from office.”
Allen has directed all inquiries about the situation to her attorney, Douglas Chalmers Jr., who would not discuss what his client’s response might be.
“We have received the letter and will respond in due course,” Chalmers said.
County officials are looking at other options to recover money paid to Allen for municipal tax collections. Over the past five years, those payments have totaled more than $160,000.
“At the end of the day, Columbia County needs to be made whole,” County Administrator Scott Johnson said.
He said the county is hoping to obtain the services of another lawyer outside of the Augusta area to consult on the issue.
“We are in the process of trying to obtain counsel to explore our options,” he said. “If there is money owed to us, we need to get it back.”