James Hinnant, a longtime Goldsboro resident, is concerned about the direction of the Goldsboro City Council and is part of a group of concerned citizens who plan to have a protest and rally Saturday at City Hall.
He and about 50 other people plan to hold a peaceful protest from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of City Hall, at 200 N. Center St.
He said he is concerned about what he calls mismanagement and rising fees and taxes some residents are struggling to pay.
“The situation is they continue to raise the cost of water, sewer and taxes and what it’s doing is it’s putting the hardship on our seniors, people with mental and physical disabilities and the children,” Hinnant said Thursday.
“We don’t have any transparency with the mayor and the City Council at this point. This is why we are going to have a peaceful protest in front of the City Hall.”
Hinnant said he plans to speak during the event.
In addition to the cost of water, sewer and taxes, Hinnant said he is concerned about the city’s inability to borrow money, finance key projects and balance the city budget.
The city has grappled with not being able to finance projects with Local Government Commission approval after delaying the submission of its 2019 fiscal audit more than a year.
Hinnant is concerned that taxpayers and ratepayers are having to foot the bill.
“(The City Council) wants to balance this budget off the back of the people and talk again about raising the water and sewer bill,” Hinnant said. “That’s too much.”
Hinnant said he sees people struggling in the community, even children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“Right now I’m talking to senior citizens that’s been struggling for years, and they’re worried to death,” he said. “I go to schools, and I’m talking to children, and some of those children are coming to school sometimes not having breakfast. I can only imagine if the water was cut off what would happen in that household.”
Hinnant said he is also concerned about City Council appointing members into positions of power that are typically held by elected officials who earn votes.
“They have deprived the citizens of Goldsboro of the elective process,” Hinnant said. “They’re selecting people so you no longer have a democracy, you have a dictatorship. Why Goldsboro is in despair at this particular time is because of the mismanagement.”
For the third time this year, the council has moved to fill a vacant seat on the seven-member City Council.
In February, Councilwoman Hiawatha Jones was appointed by council to District 1. Jones ran an unsuccessful bid in the 2019 election race against Wayne County Commissioner Antonio Williams, who was reelected to the council’s District 1 seat with 285 votes. Jones received 210 votes in the race.
Within three months, Williams filed for the 2020 race for a seat on the Wayne County Board of Commissioners. He was elected to the board in November 2020.
Mayor David Ham’s appointment followed in August, and his vacant District 5 seat is expected to be filled by either Charles Gaylor IV or Phyllis Merritt-James in October.
Councilwoman Brandi Matthews has opposed the appointment processes each time and has advocated for a special election or other options in filling seats on the council that allow the public a voice.
Gaylor and Merritt-James will be able to make a presentation before council on Oct. 4, and the council could make an appointment on Oct. 18.
Hinnant said something has to change and that come election time, residents need to vote the entire City Council out of office.
“They put us in this predicament,” Hinnant said. “I will vote for none of them because the thing about it is they come and court our votes, then when we need help, they turn their back on us. So this is too much.”