SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — There are more problems for Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert as WREG Investigators uncover another office location with an expired lease.
This time, the location sits in a strip mall on Austin Peay in Raleigh.
Through the Tennessee Records Act, WREG Investigators requested the leasing agreements for the clerk’s satellite offices.
We received a contract for the Raleigh location signed by the former clerk in 2017, indicating the lease expired in February 2022. That was 15 months ago, meaning yet another satellite location’s lease is in limbo.
It’s not the only clerk’s office location that has expired or will expire soon.
According to the contract for the Whitehaven location, the lease expired in January 2022, the Poplar Plaza location is set to expire on June 30, and the Millington location will expire in December.
The satellite locations handle titling and license registration.
Halbert didn’t agree to an interview on this latest discovery, but in an email, confirmed Raleigh’s location is in a “month-to-month lease” and stated, “the office has often operated on month to month leases (some went without leases for quite some time).”
We asked if a month-to-month lease costs more. She told us she’d “check.”
County Commissioner Mick Wright said he believes it’s going to cost taxpayers more.
“We know that’s happening already at the Whitehaven location, that we’ve been month-to-month for a year and now we’re being charged a holdover fee monthly as well,” Wright said.
Besides money, Wright said another location without a lease puts customer service at risk. He says the Whitehaven location could close with a 30-day notice if new tenants render the current arrangement unworkable.
“It is a concern to me that we could potentially see multiple satellite offices close and nowhere for the citizens to go,” he said.
In March, we obtained emails from a county government source with knowledge of the matter that showed Poplar Plaza’s property management made multiple attempts to hash out the lease and even offered a new location and layout in the same complex.
Halbert told us the options aren’t big enough and her team has been “aggressively trying” to figure it out.
She said there are talks about opening another location in a vacant bank building on Quince, and she is discussing plans to rebuild the Whitehaven complex across from the current location.
No timeline or dates were given.
It’s been nearly two years since the promised opening date for the new Riverdale office, which was supposed to replace the Germantown location that suddenly closed in 2020.
The property manager told WREG Investigators then that they had tried to work with Halbert’s office, but Halbert said there were problems with the contract and miscommunication and they were given short notice to vacate.
“I really think the best step forward is for Wanda Halbert to resign or be replaced,” Wright said. “The money is there, the willingness is there, the employees are there. It’s just simply saying yes or no.”
But despite those calls from commissioners and other county leaders, Halbert has said she has no plans to leave office.
Some commissioners recently initiated ouster proceedings, but it fell short of the votes needed.
We reached out to Raleigh’s property manager as well as the property manager for the Whitehaven and Poplar Plaza locations, but no one returned multiple calls and emails.
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