What’s a penny, after all?

“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, on Election Day 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed. 

And what’s a penny after all? Pennies in the US have been around since the 18th century… although, of course just like us, a penny isn’t what it used to be. Did you know Benjamin Franklin designed the first penny, seen here? (Wasn’t he the BUSIEST man you’ve ever imagined!)

Note the “Mind your business” motto on the other side. That’s what the “Penny Tax” currently up for voter approval of its renewal is actually all about: adding a penny to the state sales tax, to be used for improvements in our county. We’re hoping that one of the ways the funds raised will be used is to create a safe, state-of-the-art archives, as well as public access, to our county’s history.

(Just a little fun fact) The copper used to strike the coins was from U.S. military supplies, from the bands used to hold together powder kegs that the French government sent to the United States during the American Revolution.

Here’s the first US “elongated penny”… which just happens to be from the Columbian Expostion, of which our own Bertha Palmer was the chair of the Women’s Board.

Might a new History Center Museum include some interesting things relating to Bertha Palmer? While we don’t know what is planned if our county finally gets a real, professional History Center, we DO hope we might be able to see Bertha’s rowing machine, her birdcage, and perhaps other fascinating Sarasota County gems… all for, perhaps, voting to continue the penny surtax.

If we’ve piqued your interest in the penny, you can learn more from the Federal Reserve here, and more interesting facts from here as well.

More about the one-cent surtax, from the HSoSC President, is here.

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