Mayor Harris suggests steps for correcting clerk’s office backlog, long lines in letter to Wanda Halbert

Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert
Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 3:28 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris sent a letter to County Clerk Wanda Halbert on Friday outlining an updated corrective action plan to mitigate the office’s backlog of license plates among other issues.

According to the letter, the Shelby County Clerk’s Office has been following a corrective action plan created by an ad hoc team from the mayor’s office.

The plan includes regular weekly inspections, which Halbert agreed to follow.

“The team has recently updated me, and, in turn, I am writing to update you,” Harris writes.

In response to Halbert’s public statements claiming the clerk’s office has substantially cleared the original backlog, the mayor said he has asked the ad hoc team to cease its weekly inspections and to transition the inspections to an as-needed basis.

This comes after a countywide week-long office closure in August to catch up on the backlog.

According to Halbert, the clerk’s office caught up on 2/3 of the “dealer work” during the initial closure.

The offices are closed again for their second scheduled week-long closure to fulfill the remaining orders for new and renewed license plates and auto-dealer packets.

The backlog aside, many customers have complained about the long wait times that continued after the offices re-opened.

“Unfortunately, over the course of the last several weeks, there have been many reports of new operational and customer service issues at your offices,” the mayor wrote. “These issues include a significant dealer package backlog (separate from the original backlog mentioned above), complaints about the closure of offices, complaints about the early closure of offices, and residents facing long lines, among other complaints.”

In light of public interest, Harris “strongly urges” that Halbert begins making reports to the Shelby County Commission at least twice a month on the status of these new issues.

“It is my hope that this regular communication will help allay the growing public alarm and help put us all in a position to work together to resolve whatever issues remain,” Harris writes.

As a final note in his letter, Harris reminds Halbert that he recommends she halt the clerk’s office closures and expand regular office hours in service to Shelby County residents.

Halbert’s response to the mayor’s suggestions was that the “point is moot,” and that the problems facing the Shelby County Clerk’s Office are the result of the mayor’s “lack of organizational skills,” she said in a phone conversation.

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