MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis auto dealers are asking the state to step in to help with a backlog of license tag applications in Shelby County, saying the problem has become a “crisis.”

WREG spoke to one county commissioner says it may be time for the state to take over.

The Greater Memphis Automobile Dealers Association says there are now more than 7,400 pending tag applications dating back to April, and thousands of Shelby County residents are driving with expired drive-out tags. That doesn’t include used car dealers, they said.

The backlog is even preventing some drivers from driving outside Shelby County, the dealers association said.

Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert, who is running for re-election, has apologized for long lines and wait times at her office but said the clerk’s office didn’t have the money or personnel to deal with the problem.

Halbert said she welcomes the call for state intervention.

“I am begging the State of Tennessee to come in because I think they need to have a look at this. I will join the auto dealers association to ask the state, the governor to come in,” Halbert said.

“The records will historically show we have asked for everything we needed, but the answer has been no,” Halbert said.

“[The] Shelby County Government, not the County Clerk’s Office, stopped performing the mail services until they received additional money,” Halbert said.

Shelby County has responded by providing more money to Halbert’s office for postage and personnel.

Tuesday, Halbert said her office is making progress on getting license plates mailed out. She said more than 22,000 went out just last week.

The state is waiving its portion of fees for a year beginning July 1.

State Rep. Mark White of Memphis said Shelby County appears to be the only county in Tennessee that is experiencing the problem.

For several months, Halbert and Shelby County government have disputed who’s to blame for a huge backlog of license plate applications.

“After four long years and we find ourselves here, where we cannot serve customers because someone else made that decision outside our organization,” Halbert said during a press conference.

But Wednesday, Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley fired back.

“Clerk Halbert was elected to do this job, but for four years, in my opinion, has failed miserably,” Billingsley said. “So much of what we heard during the press conference was utterly ridiculous. There were so many falsehoods, it’s hard to keep up.”

Billingsley said the commission approved a half a million dollars in postage for the clerk’s office.

“So, the county commission gave her over 500 thousand dollars’ worth of postage. It’s excuse after excuse after excuse,” Billingsley said.

“The records will historically show we have asked for everything we needed, but the answer has been no,” Halbert said.

The license plate delay is forcing the Greater Memphis Automobile Association to ask for help from the state.

“I am begging the State of Tennessee to come in because I think they need to have a look at this. I will join the auto dealers association to ask the state, the governor to come in,” Halbert said.

The license plate debate lingers on as one commissioner said it may be time for Halbert to step aside.

“This commissioner would ask the state to come in and intervene until Clerk Halbert can assess or chose to leave office,” Billingsley said.

Mayor Harris’ office told us they do have the documents that will show they have provided support to the clerk’s office to do her job.