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Florida Legal Newspaper Statement on The Fed's duties: Nobody is allowed to talk about it publicly.

by Karen Brune Mathis
Managing Editor

There’s no telling how many millions of dollars pass through the Jacksonville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on any given day.

Really, there’s no telling. Nobody is allowed to talk about it publicly.

“A lot” was all that Christopher Oakley, vice president and regional executive of the Jacksonville branch, would say.

Considering that one “cash bus” of $20s in the highly secured cash room totaled $11.2 million, and that there were several buses in view and who knows how much in the vault, the math adds up.

Then there’s the $2 million cash bus of $5 bills in a lobby display, bathed in sensors in case anyone desires an up-close view.

Money and security abound at the 800 Water St. structure Downtown, near the Osborn Center. In basic terms, the branch is considered the bank for regional banks, taking in their deposits and providing them cash withdrawals as needed.

The branch is gearing up, as are all of the branches in the Fed system, for the new $100 notes to be released Feb. 10. The makeover of the bill means a retooling of the equipment that the branches use to sort, count and stack the currency passing through.

“When we get a new design, it requires retrofits on our machines,” said Oakley.

The Federal Reserve System is the nation’s central bank and is based in Washington, D.C. It was created in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation and earned his place as the face on the $100,000 note.

Those don’t pass through, though. The highest denomination bill in circulation is $100, graced by Benjamin Franklin.

The Federal Reserve Banks consist of 12 regional banks. The regional Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank has five branches in Jacksonville, Miami, Birmingham, Nashville and New Orleans.

About 765 banks and branches in most of Florida, other than South Florida, send their currency to the Jacksonville branch for processing, including destruction and replacement of worn-out bills and detection of counterfeit notes. During a tour early Wednesday, three counterfeit bills had already been found.

Oakley and Community Relations Coordinator Barbara Klinger said 20 to 30 counterfeit bills a day are detected and turned over to the U.S. Secret Service. The banks that send them are debited. Oakley said the Fed’s cash employees know the counterfeit money more by feel than by sight. The counterfeit bills don’t have the consistency as real notes, which are 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.

The branch also shreds 15 to 20 percent of the cash it processes daily because it’s worn out. The banks are credited for the deposit and the U.S. Treasury is notified.

The $1 and $5 bills, which wear out the quickest, generally circulate for 18 to 24 months.


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The actual printed money, the paper bills are only a small

precentage. The real big money is electronic in nature. It can be emailed and printed with a few keystrokes.