Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen and her husband, District 3 Commissioner Charles Allen, both agreed to resign Tuesday.
The Board of Commissioners announced the Allens’ resignations after a closed executive session with attorneys at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. Augusta attorney Jack Long arrived with a sheaf of settlement agreements already signed by the Allens, who were not present.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the agreement brings to an end the county’s dispute with Kay Allen over more than $160,000 in fees she was paid by the cities of Harlem and Grovetown since 2009 for providing tax collection services. Commissioners contended Allen’s additional compensation from the cities violated a state law that regulated such agreements, and that the money should have been remitted to the county instead.
Long said the dispute had “erupted into a full-scale political and legal battle” that the Allens decided to end before it cost the taxpayers more money in legal fees.
“They hope the healing process will begin for Columbia County,” he said.
In the settlement agreement approved by commissioners Tuesday, Allen must return half the money to the county, a total of $80,650, and submit her resignation to Gov. Nathan Deal. The county also agreed to allow Allen to retire with her state benefits intact and to withdraw its letter to the governor seeking her removal from office.
County Administrator Scott Johnson said he had the tax commissioner’s resignation letter in hand and planned to submit it to Deal’s office later Tuesday night. Johnson said Charles Allen’s resignation was effective immediately.
Johnson said as soon as Kay Allen’s resignation is effective, Deputy Tax Commissioner Steve Adams will step in to fill her position. It will be up to the governor to call for a special election. Johnson said he will make contact with Deal’s office Wednesday to discuss the possibility of timing any special election to coincide with the primary in May.
He also said the District 3 commission seat could be filled at the same time, although no details had been worked out yet.