Blair protects his wetlands, not ours
Commissioner Brian Blair wants the county to stop protecting wetlands. Unless we’re talking about the wetlands behind his house.
Since February 2005, a few months after Blair was elected, county work crews have spent more hours at Noreast than any of Hillsborough’s 229 other lakes … Workers spent 218 hours maintaining, spraying and planting at Noreast under the watchful eye of Blair … In January, Blair and other commissioners approved $985,000 of county sales tax money for a project intended to divert storm drainage around the lake.
Although the plans for that project have changed,
the county still plans to spend $985,000 on lakes in Forest Hills.
Blair maintains that the stormwater and flood control projects connecting the Forest Hills lakes with his lake are the source of his lake’s problems.
The Times report details how Blair has used his influence to push his pet project to get more than most experts and residents think it deserves.
It looks to me like about a million of our tax dollars are going to be spent in Blair’s backyard. Meanwhile he’s trying to eliminate EPC’s Wetlands Division which costs less for a year’s protection of ALL our wetlands. (Its total annual budget is about 2M, but it brings in over 1M in fees and grants, so EPC’s Finance Director, Tom Koulianos, estimates the total annual cost at “about 7- or 800,000.”)
If we protect our wetlands in the first place, we won’t have to spend so much money fixing lakes and rerouting stormwater. If Brian Blair was truly the fiscal conservative he claims to be, he wouldn’t dream of gutting our EPC which saves us a great deal of money by protecting the wetlands that store floodwater and filter pollutants out of stormwater runoff, so we don’t have to pay to artificially restore natural systems and build expensive stormwater clean-up projects and flood control systems. It is much cheaper to prevent wetland damage than to fix it.
Cheaper for us taxpayers, that is. Of course, it costs developers a little extra to leave our wetlands intact. And it’s the developers’ money, not ours, that Brian Blair is concerned about.