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Next up for embattled County Clerk Halbert: An audit by the Tennessee State Comptroller

State Comptroller Jason Mumpower informed Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and Shelby County Commissioners that a “boots-on-the-ground” audit team is headed to Shelby County to square revenue numbers reported by the Shelby County Clerk’s office in a letter on Tuesday, February 27.

The step follows a revelation from Shelby County Trustee Regina Newman, who informed commission members she would be “unposting” earlier figures after they proved to be inaccurate during Monday’s afternoon session.

“I have no confidence in the Clerk’s Office to manage its affairs without outside intervention,” said Mumford.

The letter also accused County Clerk Wanda Halbert of “incompetence and willful neglect.”

With revenue numbers for months of July, August and September off – and with seven months of fiscal year 2024 already elapsed – Newman told commissioners the figures are “beyond the point of no return.”

Halbert informed Newman the reports were inaccurate with an email. Despite a promise to send revised figures, they were never sent.

The embattled second-term clerk has blamed out-of-date computer software and Excel spreadsheets provided by the administration.

The revenue numbers include the $25 increase to the wheel tax that was levied last year. The tax is earmarked for big-ticket items like the county’s $350 million tab on the $700 million rebuild of the Regional One Health campus. The revenue will also fund new high schools in Frayser and Cordova. 

The remainder will go towards public education.

However, without accurate numbers, where the money goes is not being accounted for. In addition to hampering cash-on-hand estimates, it also calls into question whether certified statements meet accounting rigor.

To compound worries, a budget proposal from the Harris administration for fiscal year 2025 is currently being crafted.

In addition to the audit, a special prosecutor appointed by Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft is currently investigating if Halbert’s ouster is warranted. Hamilton County District Attorney General Coty Wamp was appointed to lead the inquiry after Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy recused himself.

In a message on X, formerly Twitter, Shelby County Commissioner Mick Wright expressed gratitude for Mumpower’s decision to send state auditors. Wright has requested Halbert’s resignation several times.

The Commission’s growing ire with Halbert dates back to the pandemic, after a months-long backlog of thousands of vehicle tags and other issuances occurred during her first term. After being reelected, she attracted Mumpower’s attention when she took an impromptu vacation to Jamaica while her office was digging out of its hole. The jaunt led to a temporary closure.

Halbert is scheduled to appear before the commission next Wednesday, March 6.

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