One of the goals of the current leadership of Guilford County is to improve communications with residents, and that’s why a county that had no public relations specialist not that many years ago now has a full-fledged department for that purpose.

Another move in that direction is in the proposed Guilford County budget that is expected to be adopted next week – a completely new county website at a cost of $400,000.

That item is expected to make it into the final budget but the commissioners did have some questions about the cost at a recent budget work session.  Commissioner James Upchurch for instance, said he had built 20 or so websites in his life and he said that the $400,000 price tag sounded very high to him.

Guilford County Communications and Public Relations Director Julie Smith explained to the board that the website was complex and consisted of about 1,700 web pages.  She also said the site needed a complete structural overhaul rather than just some changes here and there.

Guilford County Manager Mike Halford included the $400,000 project as part of the Board of Commissioners’ “core value” of “transparency and communication” that the board once set as a goal at a board retreat.

Halford’s budget states that one of the priorities is to improve the county’s communications and branding,

“With more than 4 million unique visitors annually, the website serves as the front door to information about the County,” the proposed budget states. “Funds will be used to completely redesign the existing site into a version that is easier to find, easier to navigate, more engaging, and fully accessible to all users seeking clear, concise information about Guilford County.”

Some of those who have to access the website on a regular basis agreed that the Guilford County website could definitely use an update.