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Economy / Business

Underserved communities will get a chunk of Hillsborough's more than $100 million in relief funding

Hillsborough County Center building
Hillsborough County
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The commissioners approved projects including affordable housing, sewer and septic issues, and alleviating hunger in underserved areas throughout the county.

The money is intended to promote long-term investments to promote community health and stability, said Bonnie Wise, county administrator.

Residents throughout Hillsborough County will see substantial improvements to their roads, water quality and quality of life over the next few years.

The county will spend more than $103 million in American Rescue Funds on affordable housing, sewer and septic issues, and alleviating hunger in underserved areas throughout the county.

The Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 Wednesday to approve the projects.

Commissioner Harry Cohen said communities such as Wimauma, Ruskin and Gibsonton desperately need infrastructure improvements.

He said the list "represents exactly what the public wants to see us working on."

"Every time I look at this list, I see so much that is going to be accomplished with this money," Cohen said. "And I think that when you look at this through the prism of equity, you can really see the money being invested in communities that need it."

The money is intended to promote long-term investments to promote community health and stability, said Bonnie Wise, county administrator.

The list of improvements includes funding for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to implement a new station alerting system that is intended to improve response times and provide health benefits for firefighters, storm water drainage and water quality improvement projects in the Progress Village area and other parts of the county, and septic to sewer conversions mostly in Ruskin, Wimauma, Gibsonton and Palm River.

"This is a first step to really make a difference in the most vulnerable parts of our community,” Wise said.

The proposed projects received passionate support from the commission. Chairwoman Pat Kemp expressed her support, saying it was “such good news.”

The money represents an excellent opportunity to address the county’s built-up roadwork and other needs, added Commissioner Mariella Smith. She said this is essential work the county is delivering.

Budget director Tom Fesler reminded the board that $35 million have already been allocated from the funds for road projects. The board will be presented on Nov. 17 with the proposed list of road resurfacing projects.

Wise noted the funds should be spent by December 2024 and that staff is ready to start working on these projects as they will take awhile to complete.

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