Shelby County Clerk Wanda Halbert on Wednesday said she is angry and frustrated with the way Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris’ administration is handling a proposal to charge drivers more in vehicle fees if they own more than two vehicles.
Harris’ plan would add $145 to each car registration, three vehicles and above, to addresses in Shelby County including homes and businesses. It would be part of a county commitment of $10 million to MATA, the first of its kind, that would initially increase frequency of bus service.
All of that was literally news to Halbert, whose office oversees license plate fees. Halbert said she only learned about the initiative when she saw it on local TV news.
Halbert said she was not consulted when the policy was being formed. As an elected official, she said she deserved “a seat at the table” when the matter was being discussed.
“I just think it’s sad nobody is talking about the disrespect,” Halbert said. “Lee (Harris) is not my boss. We are peers.”
Halbert considers herself, Harris and every other elected official on the same level in that voters elected them to work for the residents of Shelby County.
In a text, Lauren Lee, public information officer for Harris, said the proper procedures were followed in how the vehicle tax proposal was processed.
“Proper procedure is for a proposal from the mayor’s office to be presented first to the Shelby County Commission,” Lee said in the text. “That proposal was delivered Wednesday, Sept. 4. The next morning I contacted Clerk Halbert to send her the proposal and she declined.”
Halbert said Lee was not being truthful about how the situation was handled. She would not elaborate but said she is planning to address the commission in a public meeting to get a clearer understanding of how county officials should act in similar situations.
“I will address the county commission publicly,” she said. “Peers work together. They don’t tell each other what to do. I am disappointed that the mayor chose not to work with the independent, elected officials as a peer and not their boss.”