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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Secretary of State Marshall says lack of staff hurting economy

Calling the situation “on the brink of a crisis,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall pleaded for additional funding from the General Assembly to handle the increased workload her staff faces because of North Carolina’s economic growth.

Marshall said that her office has 185 employees to handle filings for new companies and other documents. She noted that there has been a “double-digit increase” in filings without any increase in staffing.

“Sadly, what it means is there are longer processing times, waiting times,” said Marshall after the Council of State meeting on Tuesday. “It’s just a drag on business.”

The Secretary of State’s website noted that filings that are mailed in may take up to eight weeks to process. The goal, said Marshall, is usually three to five business days. She also noted that existing business make “buy, sell, lend” decisions on the data her office collects and disseminates, and that data is delayed because of the lack of additional staff.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s recommended budget called for the Secretary of State’s office to receive an additional 12 positions. The current budget provides an additional three positions, but Marshall noted that two of those positions are employees who have been on contract and the third is a forensic lab employee whose salary is partly funded by a grant.

“It’s really a gain of nothing,” says Marshall.

Currently, the Secretary of State has a budget of $18 million, but Marshall, who has been Secretary of State since 1997, noted that the fees it collects from businesses provided $190.8 million to the North Carolina general funded.

She asked the General Assembly not to approve any more legislation that would require additional work by the Secretary of State’s office, and she also asked for “sufficient salary enhancements.” She noted that workers who have retired from her office have returned to work after being notified of the backlog by former co-workers.

Marshall argued that a lack of additional resources will slow economic growth in the state, and that North Carolina’s No. 1 ranking for business from CNBC would be in jeopardy.

“When the wagon is overloaded, no ox can move it,” says Marshall.

Chris Roush
Chris Roush
Chris Roush is executive editor of Business North Carolina. He can be reached at croush@businessnc.com.

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