TAMP, FL. – Hillsborough County can start ticking off some major infrastructure projects on its to-do list, including sewer and sewer upgrades, broadband internet and affordable housing.
On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners approved the use of $104 million in federal money allocated from the U.S. bailout plan for projects that the county previously failed to complete.
“This is really a step forward for us in funding projects that we had already identified as part of the community’s needs,” said Harry Cohen, the Hillsborough County Commissioner for District 1.
About $70 million will pay for a septic-to-sewer conversion project that will protect groundwater and eliminate septic tanks in the area.
“In unincorporated Hillsborough County, we have more than 26,000 homes that are on old septic systems. They need to be placed on the regular sewage system so we don’t have minor environmental accidents across the county,” Cohen said. .
The next portion of $17.5 million will go to repair stormwater runoff in areas that frequently flood.
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“[It’s] not just Palm River, but Progress Village, in the community area of the University, Wimauma, Balm and then a huge investment in infrastructure in Gibsonton,” he said.
The work also includes using $2.835 million to build affordable housing, $3.6 million to update the emergency fire alarm system, $5 million to address food insecurity and installing broadband internet in underserved areas.
“Broadband, we learned during the COVID pandemic how important it is that everyone in our community has access to broadband,” said Cohen. “A lot of it was in the queue. Some things were things that we were hoping to fund before, but we couldn’t, so we’re really excited about the fact that we believe we can get off to a flying start.”
Commissioners said the $104 million for these infrastructure projects is the first tranche of the US bailout plan. The county also has $35 million in federal money for road-surfacing projects, but Cohen said where that money goes in the county won’t be settled until the next committee meeting this month.