Staff shortage causing long lines for car tabs, marriage licenses in Pierce County

TACOMA, Wash. --If you need car tabs, a marriage license, or passport, expect to wait in long lines at the Pierce County Auditor’s Office.  It’s so bad the auditor sent out a warning message on its website and social media accounts.

From ticket to counter will take much longer at the Pierce County Auditor’s Office.

“Two employees on catastrophic medical leave and two employees leave who were gone anyways,” said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson.

It leaves the staff swamped with paperwork and questions from residents like Annika Jones.

“I usually come in and expect them to have all the answers because they usually do,” said Jones.

She’s got a simple request.

“My beetle bug, I need to get new plates, someone stole them off,” said Jones.

But Anderson says many things you can do elsewhere.  If you come to the auditor’s office, don’t expect to make an appointment.

“Because we are so thinly staffed, all of our staff are cross-trained to provide a wide variety of services.  We don’t have someone just dedicated to passports.  We can’t make appointments,” said Anderson. “You can’t go anywhere else for marriage, we’re happy to see you, and by the way congratulations, but you can go elsewhere for vessel licensing.”

There’s a long list of sub-agent offices privately run but state-sponsored to help ease the load off the county auditor’s office.

“They provide exactly the same services at the same price.  They’re open later than we are and they’re open on Saturdays,” said Anderson.

Whatever you do, don’t be a hot mess express.

“A hot mess is showing up at lunch or later without your application filled out, whether that’s for vehicle licensing or passport, and you don’t bring payment,” said Anderson.

Annika got those plates she was looking for.

“Every time, I don’t have a problem. No matter what the circumstances are, they always work with me,” said Jones.

But a trip to the office after one in the afternoon…

“If you do come, expect to be patient and arrive prepared,” said Anderson.

It may get worse before it gets better. Summer is peak season at the auditor’s office.  The next round of employee training won’t happen until September. If you’re looking for a good-paying, government job with benefits, the auditor’s office is hiring.