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Shelby County Clerk's office explains license plate delays, customer service challenges to county commission

Clerk Wanda Halbert said staffing challenges remain an issue. And one Memphian explained her frustrations waiting for her license plate to arrive.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "Let's put our money to good use and make this an easier process for our residents," Katelin Walker said.

Her plea is personal.

In early January, Walker said she ordered a new license plate and tag by mail through the Shelby County Clerk's office. They arrived too late - six weeks later - in mid-February. 

"I started getting nervous because I had an expired tag and I was driving around town and thinking, 'this can't be a good thing'," Walker added.

On top of that, Walker said getting answers with one of just five available operators proved nearly impossible, and it took hours to finally connect on the sixth try.

"I understand the staffing shortages, if anyone does, we certainly do having a business. But it just maybe needs to be streamlined. I would just appreciate a better line of communication," Walker said.

RELATED: Yes, wait times are long for license plates, and even phone calls at the Shelby County Clerk's Office

Tennessee's first new license plates since 2006 continue to cause major backlogs and customer service headaches for the Shelby County Clerk's Office.

"Currently we have 2008 hardware with 2007 software. We are now seeing our systems crash," Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert said.

Wednesday in front of the Shelby County Commission, those with the clerk's office outlined the issues ABC24 first showed you last month.

"We have temps working in a hallway doing nothing but tag stuffing every single day. The people answering the calls in our call centers are stuffing envelopes while they are talking to people on the phone," Shelby County Clerk Chief Administrative Officer Bill Cash said.

Since that report, Halbert said while they've added staff in other places, the manpower is still the same processing tags and plates by online or mail order.

She's hopeful the county commission's next budget - which takes effect July 1st - will include more money to cover more of those positions.

"We are going to continue to do the best we can, make sure the county commission knows what we need to get our job done," Halbert added.

RELATED: Here's what to know about getting Tennessee's new license plate

For Walker, knowing the many license and tag renewals still ahead this year, she's hopeful big improvements can be made for efficiency, so others don't end up with similar delays and frustrations.

"I just don't think it should be that hard to pay your taxes, get your tags and move on with your life," Walker said. "If everything in my life took that long to process, then I wouldn't get anything done."

For anyone who ordered a new plate or tag, hasn't received it yet, and are driving on expired plates, Halbert said to make sure to have the paper or electronic receipt to avoid getting a ticket.

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