Shelby County approves $540K to cover cost of mailing new license plates

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As Shelby County continues to deal with a license plate backlog, tensions rise between the Shelby County clerk and the mayor.

Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert said license plates haven’t been shipped out since May 13.

Late Monday evening, Shelby County commissioners approved $540,000 in postage funding to cover the cost of mailing the new license plates.

Halbert said this money is being taken out of her budget.

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

“We are being asked to authorize them taking $540,000 out of our postal dollar funds so they can continue to run our mail,” she said.

Halbert showed FOX13 photos of her and members of her staff packing envelopes with license plates by hand.

She said her staff sends bins of the mail to the county mailroom every night.

That office then applies postage and takes the mail to the post office, something Halbert says is illegal.

“I am not legally supposed to allow someone to touch our plates. We get funds to do that work. If anything happens to it, we would be held accountable. That’s where the chain of custody has been broken,” Halbert said.

Halbert said she got a letter from Mayor Lee Harris telling her that her office could take over its own mail operations beginning July 1.

Meanwhile, residents just want to know when the long lines and wait times will end.

“It gets to like 100 degrees, and I am afraid of heat stroke with my conditions,” Belinda Webb said.

FOX13 also reached out to the mayor’s office and county commissioners about the issue.

Commissioner Mark Billingsley sent FOX13 the following statement:

“The citizens of Shelby County deserve to secure their license plates. Clerk Halbert has been given all the resources and funding she needs to execute her job. This is a leadership and management problem. This is not a complex operation, and there are good county staff that work in the Clerk’s office. The County Commission is growing tired of her excuses, as are our citizens.”

If you’ve purchased your plate and are waiting on it to come in, MPD says you are still at risk of getting a ticket if your current plates and tags are expired. Halbert said drivers are supposed to get their plates and tags within 14 to 21 days of purchasing them online.

If you haven’t received it by the 21st day, Halbert said you should contact her office.

She said people are then given the option to come in and get a replacement, or members of her staff can send another one directly from their office instead of taking it to the county mailroom first.