During the Feb. 21, 2024, Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting: 

The Board declared Feb. 29 – Mar. 10, 2024, as Florida Strawberry Festival Days. Since 1930, the festival has united the community by bringing together people to honor farmers and celebrate the bountiful strawberry harvest, a $1.1 billion industry in Hillsborough County alone. The Florida Strawberry Festival draws over 600,000 local residents and visitors from around the world each year, introducing them to Plant City agriculture, arts, businesses, horticulture, and industry.

Commissioners selected and authorized negotiations with Garney Companies, Inc. for design-build services for the "One Water" South Wastewater Conveyance and Treatment Project. The project will include design, permitting, and construction of a new advanced wastewater treatment facility, pump station, approximately 10 miles of wastewater force mains, and 12 miles of reclaimed water mains in the County's South-Center Service Area.

The Board received an update on the Morris Bridge Road short-term safety improvements. 

A recent safety analysis showed that speeding played a major role in crashes in the area located near I-75 to the Pasco County line. Staff has identified $2.1 million from the Mobility Fee Benefit District 3 Fund to invest in new speed management, lane departure, intersection warnings, and bike safety improvements.

Commissioners directed County staff to conduct interviews and hold focus groups with a broad representation of the development sector. The input will be used to determine what issues, if any, may hamper timely permitting, plan review, inspections, and issuance of Certificates of Occupancy. It also will be used to help identify changes in policies or procedures to ensure efficient review of plans, permits, and responsive inspection timeframes in the County's development review and permitting process. Staff will present specific action steps in a plan to address the items within 90 days.

Commissioners received a report from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Jason Dougherty on strategies to improve response times. Due to tremendous growth in the county over the last 20 years, the number of calls HCFR responds to has more than doubled, resulting in high unit utilization and increased mental and physical fatigue, negatively impacting the well-being of Fire Rescue personnel.

Solutions to shorten response times, protect property, and help save more lives include: 

  • Three-person ambulance rescue units in high-demand areas  
  • Roving peak-time ambulance rescue units in high-demand areas  
  • Additional ambulance rescue units in high-demand areas  
  • System-of-care transport policy changes, which would allow first responders to transport patients to the nearest hospital within a patient’s system of care, except for trauma, burn, or recent post-surgery patients. 

The Board directed the County Attorney’s Office to draft an ordinance amending the Investment Policy Ordinance to allow the option to invest County funds into Israel bonds.

The next BOCC regular meeting is at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2024. You can watch the meeting live on YouTube on the Hillsborough County Meetings channel.

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Image Caption: Board of County Commissioners hear from HCFR about strategies to improve response times.
Posted: 2/22/2024, 5:40:56 PM