Goldsboro residents, including James Hinnant, third row right, and Rachel Hinnant, second row right, gather Saturday morning in front of the Goldsboro City Hall.

A group of residents gathered on the steps of Goldsboro City Hall Saturday morning to protest increased property taxes and water and sewer rates.

The protesters who gathered argued that the rise in the city property taxes and utility fees have made it too expensive to live in the city.

James Hinnant, who led the protest, said he believes Goldsboro’s increasing costs of water and sewer rates will hurt the local economy in the future.

“It has escalated to the point at which people cannot afford to live in the city of Goldsboro anymore,” Hinnant said. “It has crippled Goldsboro. Goldsboro will not grow with the low wages and the high cost of living.

“If it continues to be this way, they are going to price people out of the market.”

In June, the Goldsboro City Council voted 4-2 to increase property taxes by 3 cents to the current rate of 68 cents per $100 in property valuation.

The vote for the city’s fiscal 2021-22 budget, which included the property tax increase, was supported by then-Mayor Pro Tem David Ham and Councilmen Bill Broadaway, Taj Polack and Gene Aycock. Voting against the budget were Councilwomen Hiawatha Jones and Brandi Matthews. The council discussed a possible 15% water and sewer rate increase but decided to not include it in the city budget.

The increase followed on the heels of a 17.5% city water and sewer rate increase that went into effect July 1, 2020.

The protesters who gathered also claimed that city officials are ignoring their concerns and are not considering the wishes of the people.

Rachel Hinnant, Hinnant’s sister, who stood on the City Hall steps in protest Saturday said that the politicians in the city of Goldsboro are turning a deaf ear to the citizens’ cries for change.

“It’s like they have turned a deaf ear to what people have to say,” she said. “They are not listening. It’s time for something to be done here in Goldsboro.

“It’s time for the city to consider the people’s feelings.”

Citizens standing outside of the City Hall were also upset that they have not been able to vote for their city officials who were instead appointed to the office they hold.

The council appointed Jones as its District 1 representative in February and Ham as mayor in August. The council is preparing to appoint a council member to District 5, making the appointment the third for the seven-member council this year. Members of the Goldsboro City Council serve four-year terms, with the next general election in November 2023.

James Hinnant said that not being able to vote for the officials who hold office was a big reason that he felt it was important to have a protest.

“We have a dictatorship,” Hinnant said. “We no longer have a democracy, and that is crucial. When you start having people bring in people that they choose rather than what the people choose, then the people are always going to be at a loss.

“So that’s why it’s important that we come out and voice our opinion, and it’s important that everybody take a stand because if we don’t, than we have no place to go.”

The group gathered on Saturday also played music and held up signs to get the attention of people walking by along Center Street in downtown Goldsboro.

Protesters held up signs that said “Stop hiding behind closed doors,” “Vote them out,” “Stop raising our taxes, water and sewer cost,” and two people held up signs that read “Officials of Goldsboro, NC created a system of survival.”