Request to expand Hillsborough EPC gains support

10/17/07 Mitch E. Perry
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When the Hillsborough County Commission tried to eliminate the wetlands division of the Environmental Protection Commission earlier this year, Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern spoke out against that proposal. She later told her fellow council members that she’d like Tampa to be represented on the board.

Mulhern is now going further with her goal. Last night, she asked the Temple Terrrace City Council to support her plan, which would also give Plant City representation on the county environmental board.

Currently, the Hillsborough County Commission is the EPC. The members hold separate meetings, but acts as the agency deciding countywide environmental issues.

At today's Hillsborough County Commission meeting, board chairman Jim Norman said he agreed with Mulhern. He took credit for trying the same issue last year with getting more Hillsborough County representation on some other local agencies.

Last year, Norman led the board in preparing a bill before the state legislative delegation that would have allowed more Hillsborough County representation on two boards – the Tampa Sports Authority and the Hillsborough Planning Commission. But, in part because of opposition from Tampa officials, the proposal was never adopted.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he too agreed.

Commissioner Brian Blair, who led the battle to completely eliminate the wetlands division before accepting a compromise plan to keep it somewhat intact, also agreed with Mulhern’s suggestion.

Mulhern says she’s thrilled to hear the County Commission support her proposal to expand the EPC, but says the two issues are completely separate.

And Mulhern says another difference between her proposal and the County’s is that hers is driven by grassroots support.

One Tampa official who does not support Mulhern’s plans is Mayor Pam Iorio. In Wednesday’s Tampa Tribune, Iorio said she understands the concern over the wetland issue, but “you don’t change the composition of a board because you disagree with the board on an issue.”

Mulhern respectfully disagrees.

So far, no state legislator has committed to Mulhern’s bill, but she says nobody has told her they wouldn’t ultimately support it.

The Hillsborough County Commission voted today to submit its bill regarding to the local legislative delegation. That deadline is Nov. 2.

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