6213 Reimbursement for Travel Expenses

  • The actual and necessary expenses of a director, administrator, staff member or designate of the district incurred in the course of performing services for the district, whether within or outside of the district, may be reimbursed in accordance with the approval and reimbursement procedures of the district. For purposes of this policy, travel expense includes amounts paid for use of personal automobiles, other transportation, and actual expenses or reimbursement in lieu of actual expenses for meals, lodging and related items that are necessary while in the conduct of official business of the district. A staff member or district officer may be reimbursed for gratuities not exceeding customary percentages for the cost of meals as well as reasonable amounts for such services as baggage handling when the costs are incurred while the individual is engaged in district business or other approved travel.

    Reimbursement for travel expenses will be made pursuant to the federal internal revenue code and Internal Revenue Service regulations.

    Legal References:   
    RCW 28A.320.050         Reimbursement of expenses of directors, superintendents, other school representatives, and superintendent candidates - Advancing anticipated expenses
    RCW 42.24.090              Municipal corporations and political subdivisions – Reimbursement claims by officers and employees
    2 CFR §200.474             Federal Cost Principles - Travel Costs
    Chapter 3                        School Accounting Manual

    Management Resources:
    Policy News, April 2005         Credit Card Policy Updated
    Policy News, Dec. 1999         IRS rules impact travel reimbursement

    ADOPTED: 11/24/1992
    REVISED: 09/24/98; 07/21/05; 5/10/2018

    Procedure No. 6213P Reimbursement for Travel Expenses

    The superintendent and designees for directing travel and approving reimbursement, are to:

    •         Ensure that any travel costs incurred are:

              ⁃   Directly work related,

              ⁃   Obtained at the most economical price, and

              ⁃   Both critical and necessary for district business.

    •         Exercise prudent judgment in approving travel-related costs.

    Employees on official district business are responsible for:

    •         Being familiar with district travel policy and procedures before embarking on travel.

    •         Exercising the same care in incurring expenses and accomplishing the purposes of the travel that a prudent person would exercise if traveling on personal business. Excess costs, circuitous routes, delays, or luxury accommodations unnecessary or unjustified in the performance of official district business travel are not acceptable.

    •         Paying any excess costs and any additional expenses incurred for personal preference or convenience.

    •         Returning as promptly as possible to either the official station or official residence when the district business is completed.

    •         Securing prior authorization for travel when required.

    •         Preparing the claim for travel expenses and providing appropriate receipts and documentation as required.

    •         Promptly pay fines to the appropriate jurisdiction for all parking tickets, citations or infractions received while operating a vehicle on district business.  Payment of fines and citations under these circumstances is the sole obligation and responsibility of the traveler and is not to be reimbursed or paid by the district. 

    Travel Outside the District

    1. An employee desiring to travel outside of the district (defined as greater than 50 miles from Yelm) must submit a travel request form and conference agenda (if applicable) to the appropriate administrator or their designee prior to travel. Method of transportation must be shown on the form. Employees are expected to travel by the most economical means feasible. Even when air travel is the most economical means feasible, the employee may choose to travel by automobile. However, the employee shall be reimbursed for the airfare and related expenses in lieu of the automobile mileage claimed. Upon approval, the original signed travel request form and conference agenda must be forwarded to the Business Office.

    2. When two or more employees are traveling to the same destination, plans should be made to use the minimum number of cars necessary to transport everyone.

    Out-of-State Travel

          1.    All out-of-state travel must receive prior written authorization from the superintendent on a travel request form.

    Reimbursable Expenses

    1. Lodging: The cost of reasonable lodging at standard room rates will be reimbursed at actual expense (an itemized receipt is required).

    2. Meals (not included in registration): Employees in travel status at mealtime will receive meal reimbursement at the standard per diem meal rates.

      1. “Travel status” requires overnight travel or travel pre-approved for meal reimbursement by the Business Office on a travel request form (and in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement as applicable).

      2. Per diem meal reimbursement will be at the standard meal rates for Thurston County as used by the State of Washington for meal reimbursement. Rates will be updated when state rates are Per diem meal allowances cover the following costs: basic cost of meal, any incidental expenses, any applicable sales tax, and any customary tip or gratuity.

      3. Receipts are not required for per diem reimbursement for eligible meals.

      4. Meal payments are not required to be reduced for continental breakfasts, which may be included in the lodging rate.

      5. Employees using a District Travel Card for the purchase of meals may not exceed standard per diem rates. Amounts charged above per diem rates must be reimbursed to the district. Detailed itemized receipts are required for District Travel Card meal purchases. If meals are purchased for multiple people using the District Travel Card, there must be documentation stating who the meals were purchased for. 

      6. Costs of alcoholic beverages and the meal expense of guests are not reimbursable.

      7. Claims for meal reimbursement when an overnight stay is not involved will be processed through the payroll system with appropriate taxes withheld per IRS requirements.

    3. Private vehicle mileage is reimbursed at the State If an employee leaves from home, mileage is calculated based on the employee’s home or workplace, whichever is lesser. When two or more employees are traveling to the same destination, plans should be made to use the minimum number of cars necessary to transport everyone.

    4. Receipts are preferred but not required for parking, tolls, or transportation services (e.g. taxi, Uber) unless the expense exceeds $30.

    5. District Travel Cards may be used for travel outside of the district including transportation costs, registration fees, and reasonable expenses for lodging and meals (see above guidelines on meal purchases). District Travel Cards are not allowed for expenses of guests, spouses, alcoholic beverages, or personal expenses. District Travel Cards may be obtained from the Business Office upon their receipt of an approved travel request form. The District Travel Card along with a travel reimbursement claim, with attached receipts showing details of transaction(s), must be submitted to the Business Office immediately upon the employee's return. 

    6. If required receipts are lost, misplaced, or not obtained by the employee, they are responsible for providing alternate documentation of expenses and for any cost incurred in securing that documentation. If documentation is not obtained, the expense will not be reimbursed.

    7. The Business Office may authorize adjustments for unforeseen or exceptional expenses incurred.

    8. Travel reimbursements must be submitted to the Business Office as soon as possible but no later than 30 days upon the date of return.

     Non-reimbursable Expenses

    1. Alcoholic beverages, meals or snacks other than regular meals.

    2. Per diem meal reimbursements will not be made to employees if meals are included at the conference.

    3. Personal telephone calls, postage, and memberships.

    4. Mileage to and from home.

    5. Mileage for school levy promotions and other nonofficial school functions.

    6. Expenses incurred by persons other than staff, board members, and/or volunteers while providing service in the conduct of the business of the district.

    7. Entertainment

    8. Fines from appropriate jurisdictions for all parking tickets, citations or infractions received while operating a vehicle on district business (privately owned vehicle, rental vehicle or district owned vehicle). Payment of fines and citations under these circumstances is the sole obligation and responsibility of the traveler and is not to be reimbursed or paid by the district.

    9. Expenses for travel extending beyond the time required for the meeting or business, unless it is in the district’s financial interest to extend the travel.

    10. It is allowable for an employee to couple a vacation or other personal use onto a business trip only if:
    • The primary purpose of the trip is official district business;

    • The employee uses their approved leave for the vacation or personal part of the trip; and

    • The district does not incur any extra expenses beyond what it would normally incur had the trip occurred without any personal use coupled to the trip.

      Travel Within the District (or within 50 miles of Yelm)

    1. Expenses incurred while traveling within the district will either be covered by District procurement card, purchase order or out-of-pocket. District travel cards and lodging are not permitted while traveling within the district.

    2. Private vehicle mileage is reimbursed at the State rate. Mileage reimbursement is based on actual miles driven while on official school business. Commute transportation (between the employee’s home and workplace) is not reimbursable. For itinerant employees, “commute transportation” between home and the day’s first worksite and between the day’s last worksite and home and is not reimbursable. 

    3. Reimbursement is allowed for lodging expenses when the travel destination is located more than 50 miles (most direct route) of the closer of the employee’s official residence or work. Employees may request an exception for this rule from the superintendent or designee (as documented on a travel request form) under infrequent circumstances. For example, lodging may be permitted to avoid having an employee drive back and forth for back-to-back late night/early morning official district business.

    4. The Business Office may authorize adjustments for unforeseen or exceptional expenses incurred. 

    ADOPTED: 9/22/1994
    REVISED: 9/24/98; 6/24/99; 4/26/01; 6/24/03; 9/25/03; 8/26/04; 9/23/04; 2/23/12; 5/10/2018

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