A Brief History
The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency has been at the helm of the community’s most pressing infrastructure needs, based on a concept of holistic infrastructure planning and community redevelopment. The program promotes multi-use corridors, park-like regional stormwater facilities for water-quality protection, alternative transportation, passive recreation and wildlife-habitat preservation as it builds the infrastructure the community envisions.
The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency (IA) is a joint City-County agency within the Department of Planning, Land Management and Community Enhancement (PLACE). The City of Tallahassee and Leon County created the joint Department of PLACE, which emphasizes the desire to create a livable, sustainable and economically vibrant community through the coordinated efforts of the Planning Department, Blueprint IA and the Office of Economic Vitality. The IA Board, comprised of the City and County Commissions sitting as one body, provides direction to the Agency, which operates under the guidance of the Intergovernmental Management Team – the County Administrator and the City Manager.
In November 1989, Tallahassee and Leon County voters approved a local option one-cent sales tax to provide funding for transportation projects and law-enforcement facility improvements. Funds from the first iteration of the sales tax allowed the community to build a new Leon County detention facility; expand and renovate Tallahassee Police Department headquarters; and complete badly needed roadway projects including traffic-signal improvements, new and expanded roadways (such as Capital Circle Northeast) and improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities.
At the joint County/City Commission meeting on Sept. 6, 2000, Commissioners agreed to put the issue of extending the penny sales tax on the Nov. 7, 2000 General Election ballot for Leon County voters to decide, rather than allowing it to expire in 2004.
In November 2000, voters approved extending the sales tax from Dec. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2019, creating the Blueprint 2000 program. Signature projects of the program include Capital Cascades Trail, comprised of Franklin Boulevard, Cascades Park and the FAMU Way Trail; the Capital Circle Southeast and Capital Circle Northwest expansion projects; and preserving sensitive lands throughout the county.
The Blueprint 2000 program ended Dec. 31, 2019. In anticipation of the end of the program, in 2012, the city and county commissions formed the Leon County Sales Tax Extension Citizens Committee. This group of 18 citizens was charged with presenting a forward-looking consensus plan that would:
- Improve and expand local roads
- Reduce traffic congestion
- Build new sidewalks to local schools, commercial areas and recreational amenities
- Target projects in all parts of Leon County
- Reduce neighborhood flooding
- Expand green spaces, parks and natural areas
- Create and promote jobs in our community
The Committee met 25 times from 2012 to 2014 and vetted, developed and recommended infrastructure projects for funding through the penny sales tax.
The Committee engaged the public throughout their process and reserved the first portion of each meeting to allow community members to voice their comments, recommendations and preferred projects for consideration. The Committee hosted two open-house style meetings to give the public an opportunity to provide input and make recommendations on future projects for the Committee’s consideration.
In February 2013, the Committee hosted a Sales Tax Committee Retreat. There they approved an action plan to include economic development as a use of the sales-tax revenues, as proposed by the community action group Imagine Tallahassee. Finalization of the sales-tax proceeds investment into economic development was achieved at the December 2013 Committee meeting.
The Tallahassee City Commission and Leon County Board of County Commissioners considered the Committee’s recommendations and in April 2014, met as the Intergovernmental Agency (IA) Board to discuss projects to be included in the sales-tax extension. The IA Board directed at that meeting – the first and only public hearing on the Ordinance to Extend the Local Government Infrastructure Surtax – to approve the Sales Tax Committee’s recommendation and move forward with the referendum.
Leon County voters approved the referendum to extend the Blueprint 2020 program in November 2014, five years prior to its expiration. This allowed project planning and design to be conducted early, where possible, and program benefits – in terms of economic activity and community enhancement – to begin commensurate with sales-tax extension revenues in 2020.
On Jan. 1, 2020, a new penny sales-tax program began. Of the sales tax generated, 12% is directed to economic development and 66% will provide funding to support the implementation of 27 infrastructure projects. The remaining 22% is directed to the City of Tallahassee.