Shelby County Clerk demands investigation amid long lines, license plate delays

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Clerk is calling for state and federal offices to investigate where funds intended for her office are being used.

Wanda Halbert told FOX13 that until the resources are found, taxpayers are left waiting in long lines for services and months for other licenses they have paid for.

“I’m not able to stand for any lengths of time, so I have my little walker here. That way, I can sit down,” Belinda Webb said as a line of people wrapped around the Shelby County Clerk’s Office on Poplar Avenue and Highland Street Monday morning.

The wait time and Memphis heat make it hard for some like Webb to handle.

“It gets to be to like 100 degrees, and I’m afraid of heat stroke,” she said.

Halbert said her office is working to re-implement a system where people can put their names on a list and be called to come to the office when it’s their turn.

She said long lines aren’t the only issue.

“This is the first time we’ve had new plates since 2006, so that’s what is causing chaos not only across Tennessee but extra for Shelby County government because of the very low resources this office has always had,” Halbert said.

Halbert said thousands of Memphis drivers are being forced to drive with expired tags.

She said a lack of funding from Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’s office and high demand is causing a delay in mailing them.

Halbert said the plates are taken to the mayor’s office before they are mailed out.

“This office has never mailed its own inventory. The funding for those services is moving directly away from the organization nightly. It took me two years to find that out,” she said.

Halbert has asked for an investigation to find out where funds intended for the clerk’s office are being used.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s office sent FOX13 a statement saying they’re not in charge of the clerk’s office but continue to do what they can to get the clerk’s office to work on the issues.

A spokesperson sent FOX13 a letter from the Tennessee Comptroller of Treasury dated Sept. 2021. It was addressed to Halbert.

Part of it reads, “We believe there is no evidence of fraud, waste and abuse.” It goes on to say, ”There will be no further audit or investigation of Shelby County or the County Clerk’s office by the comptroller.”

Halbert said she wants residents to know she is doing what she can to fix the issues, including working the long lines every day.

On Monday, Shelby County commissioners were expected to vote on whether or not to approve $540,000 to pay for postage to mail license plates.