05/20/05 — Speak up: Public hearings are where civic concerns have impact

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Speak up: Public hearings are where civic concerns have impact

Not too many people showed up at the Goldsboro City Council’s budget hearing this week to complain about a proposed 5-cent increase in property taxes or to challenge anything else in the city’s 2005-06 proposal.

In fact, the only participants in the hearing were people who wanted the council members to give them more money for various projects around Goldsboro.

And maybe everyone in Goldsboro is fine with an increase in taxes.

But if it is the other reason, the one that usually keeps residents complaining at home after the decision has been made, then perhaps there is another issue to consider.

Today, people are quick to point fingers at their government leaders when they make a decision, but rather unwilling to speak up when asked for their opinions.

That apathy is why so many local, state and federal decisions seem to get passed with little more than a glance from the public until someone actually figures out the Pentagon is paying $500 for a hammer, or some states are getting more than their share of federal funding.

We critique from our homes after the fact, sometimes without remembering that we have a real chance to influence the decisions that affect us before they become permanent additions to the public record.

If you don’t want to pay more taxes, have your area annexed or believe the state of North Carolina should come up with an official definition of marriage, speak up, tell your local, state or federal officials what you want and think.

And, if enough people express their opinions, often leaders will listen.

There might not be anything to protest about the city tax hike. The budget proposal might be fair and just.

But if you have anything to say about it, now is the time.

Published in Editorials on May 20, 2005 11:36 AM