MEMPHIS, Tenn. – – Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert addressed serious problems Friday including the hours upon hours many people have to spend in customer service lines.
“We had to shut our downtown doors early today because we still had over 100 customers waiting in line after 3 p.m.,” she said. “I owe the customers and citizens of Shelby County an apology.”
But she doesn’t feel the issue is her fault. Halbert, who’s running for re-election, blames the problem on outdated facilities, poor technology, and staffing shortages. She claims she needs more money from the county commission to fix it.
“We can’t even get what we need to do our job,” Halbert said.
License plates are another problem. Some people are waiting months to get them. Halbert said the county mayor’s office mails those out and will now transfer the responsibility to her.
“We don’t have the equipment,” Halbert said. “We don’t have the personnel.”
Critics, like Halbert’s Republican opponent Jeff Jacobs, say her argument doesn’t make sense.
“She’s been turning money back in from the budget every year that she didn’t spend,” Jacobs said.
County commissioner Van Turner believes it may boil down to confusion; tens of thousands of dollars Halbert put into the county coffers that she actually could have kept for her office.
“Her office generates money. You can be a good fiduciary of those funds but also use those funds to meet the needs of the office because that’s what the funds should be for,” Turner said. “I think we all want the same thing but it seems like we’re missing each other in the conversation.”
The conversation will continue next week when the county budget is discussed.