HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners voted Wednesday to dissolve the county’s Emergency Policy Group.
This decision will now shift all responsibility and authority for responding to emergencies to the BOCC, including the coronavirus pandemic and hurricanes.
The EPG was an eight-member panel, made up of county leaders, and was activated at the beginning of the pandemic, and given the power to issue orders such as curfews and mask mandates. The group consists of three commissioners, the county’s sheriff, and school board chair as well as the mayors of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace.
“We all have been trying to figure out how to handle this and I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to take a different approach,” Commission Chairman Les Miller said. “I feel it is critical to the health and well-being of the county and the citizens that the commission immediately considers whether returning the emergency powers and authority to the board of county commissioners would be more effective addressing the COVID pandemic by better harmonizing the board’s regulatory authorities with the Florida law.”
During the meeting on July 15, Miller also made note that Hillsborough was the only county in Florida to have a body such as the EPG.
The BOCC will now meet once a week, unless a special meeting is required, and will begin Thursday at 1:30 p.m. to receive updates from Hillsborough County Emergency Management Director Tim Dudley and the Florida Department of Health Hillsborough County Director Doug Holt.
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