Perhaps life will soon return to normal in the Secretary of State's office. Then again, it's hard to get a firm grasp on what is "normal" in Al Jaeger's office these days thanks to a dramatic workload increase.
Jaeger now has permission from a legislative budget committee to hire three additional workers to help the office with a huge increase in work, mostly attributed to the booming oil industry. Jaeger had months ago reduced the office's hours open to the public, from the normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m to 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to allow employees undisturbed time to process incoming paperwork for business registrations and other license applications. The legislative budget committee recommended Jaeger restore his office's normal business hours, something the secretary of state said he'll do "as soon as we can" after the three new employees are hired, which he hopes to have done by early August.
Jaeger defended his decision to reduce office hours, noting that processing times for business registrations and licenses had been cut from six weeks to four weeks, with a goal of reducing that time to two weeks after new employees are hired and trained. Jaeger told legislators that "no one has been deprived of any services" by his decision to shorten hours.
Perhaps not, but while the shortened office hours appear to have helped Jaeger's office staff, closing the office for three hours a day to walk-in traffic wasn't exactly convenient for the public. Hopefully, some additional employees will help solve the backlog issue, and life in Jaeger's office can return to normal, or whatever passes for normal in the busy agency.