Much like the administration of outgoing Haywood County Commission Chairman Mark Swanger, it performs quite well without unneeded fanfare — the website earned the highest ratings in the editorial staff’s survey for transparency and utility, and was rated outstanding in function if not in form.
Online services, including payments, permits and property mapping scored an astonishing 4.7 out of 5, meaning that residents who need to pay property taxes, request public records, apply for building permits, or even apply for a job are just two clicks away from being able to do so. Land records and GIS resources are second-to-none in the area.
Considering the size of the county, the number of residents the website serves, and the efficiency in which it does so, it should be comforting to know that in the largest county west of Asheville a sizeable chunk of the population is receiving outstanding service.
Haywood and Macon are the only county governments that have invested in equipment needed to record their monthly meetings. Both county websites offer residents an opportunity to watch those meetings online just a day or two after the meeting takes place. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal Council also provides videos of its governmental proceedings.
Haywood County also earned high levels of satisfaction for its calendar function, availability of agendas, minutes, and access to employees, which isn’t much of a surprise when you consider that Swanger — a retired FBI agent who spent a lot of time investigating public corruption and won the N.C. Press Association's “First Amendment” award in 2006 — has made open government a mantra of sorts.
2016-17 Budget: $95.8m
Annual website expense: $299.98
Initial website expense: $14,000
Year launched: 2008
Avg. visits/month: 61,748
Avg. unique visitors/month: 30,360