STUART, Fla. — Martin County Tax Collectors' offices remain closed for the eighth day in a row.
Frustration is mounting in the community as Tax Collector Ruth Pietruszewski is not elaborating on what kind of ‘network issues’ they are working to resolve, whether personal information has been jeopardized, or how long she believes the problem might take to resolve.
Wednesday, customers continued to show up at the Willoughby Road location to find a locked door and a sign saying the office is closed.
The only services customers can access are concealed weapons permits at the Stuart and Hobe Sound Branch, and TSA services at the Palm City Branch.
Otherwise, St. Lucie County’s tax collector Chris Craft is helping Martin County residents access other critical services.
Pietruszewski on Monday and Tuesday sent 14 of her employees to St. Lucie County to assist in providing services to Martin County residents. Wednesday, the St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s Office warned that Pietruszewski pulled those employees back to Martin County to assist with “testing of their network.” Craft said without the extra help, Martin County residents could expect longer lines and wait times.
“We’re going to have to bite the bullet here a couple of days, but obviously my priority is with the St. Lucie County residents and we’re doing everything we can to help the Martin County residents,” Craft said.
Craft said he also is receiving minimal communication from Pietruszewski.
“I have no idea what’s happened. All I know is their system is down and we’re doing everything we can to help,” Craft said.
Pietruszewski also did not contact Craft when the security issue happened.
“We found out through a constituent of Martin County that their office was closed,” Craft said. That’s when he reached out to Pietruszewski to offer to help. “We’ve helped thousands. We think we’re somewhere around 250 customers per day coming in from Martin county."
Jill Miele is one of those Martin County customers. She says her husband had been trying to go to a Martin County location since October 18th. “We’re actually selling our boat because we’re moving out of state and couldn’t find the title,” Miele said.
Amet Savasir is a dealership owner, already delayed in getting people into new cars because of Martin County’s closures. “Registrations, titles, that’s what we’re trying to get,” Savasir said. He drove to Port St. Lucie Wednesday to try to get some paperwork processed. “You can still sell [cars] but you have to tell people there’s going to be a delay of we don’t know how long,” Savasir said.
Craft said this is also a tough time for Martin County residents to lose tax collector services. He says the height of tax season begins next week.
“All hell breaks loose for tax collectors across the state because all the tax bills will probably go out in the mail this weekend,” Craft said.
St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s offices are assisting with the following services for Martin County residents:
Driver licenses and identification cards, registration renewals, driving tests (by appointment only), titles, handicapped placards, CDL and HAZMAT, hunting and fishing licenses and dealer services (though St. Lucie County dealer work will take precedence). Services not offered include Martin County property tax, tangible personal property tax, tourist tax, business tax, birth certificates, concealed weapons, TSA pre-check and TWIC cards, alarms, EMS, pet licensing and SunPass.
Those needing assistance with the available services listed above can make an appointment online and click on “make an appointment,” which are available each day from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Customers can also utilize daily walk-in hours of 2:30 – 5 p.m., with driver license transactions ending at 4:30 p.m.