SECTION III 

Employee Travel Policy and Procedures

3.1     Purpose 

To provide a standard policy for employees, elected and appointed officials traveling on city business.

RESPONSIBLE DEPARTMENT: Direction of the City Manager’s Office 

The following rules are applicable to all City Employee(s), Elected Officials and Appointed Officials (hereafter referred to as City employees) traveling on approved City business:

3.2     Introduction 

The purpose of this Travel Policy and Procedures is to establish uniform regulations governing expenses incurred by employees who travel out of the area on necessary City of Show Low business.  These policies shall apply to all City employees when traveling away from their normal designated place of employment.  Exceptions to these policies may only be granted by formal written approval of the City Manager, or his/her designee. 

Requests for reimbursement of travel expenses will not be paid for travel expenses that have not previously been authorized.  Employees should consult the Travel Policy and Procedures prior to undertaking any travel.  All Travel Requisitions must be submitted to the Finance Department for review prior to travel in accordance with instructions provided. 

It is also City policy that employee requests for the reimbursement of necessary expenses incurred while traveling on authorized City business be processed in an accurate, efficient, and timely manner.

3.3     Personal Travel 

When personal travel is co-mingled with City business travel, the benchmark to be used in these situations is business is business and personal is personal.  Employees are required to separate business expenses from personal expenses when submitting their Travel Requisition expense form, and when making payment with a City credit card.  Only allowable expenses should be made on City credit cards.  Travel requirements for the City supersede all personal travel requirements.

Please remember that employee travel is always subject to public disclosure and therefore additional accounting and scrutiny is required by the employee and the City to separate City business travel from any personal travel.  The City is a public entity; therefore, it is the responsibility of the employee to maintain correct and proper records to report only authorized City business related expenses when filing Travel Requisitions.

3.3.1   Authorization 

1.   All travel shall be authorized and approved as appropriate by the applicable department director, City Manager, the Finance Department on a City of Show Low Travel Authorization & Expense form (attached as Exhibit 1, and is accessible in PDF fillable format on the City’s web-site).

2.   Travel Authorization & Expense forms must be submitted to the applicable department director a minimum of one week prior to travel if a per diem travel advance is requested.  Requests submitted less than one week prior to travel may result in out-of-pocket expenses to the employee, reimbursable after travel occurs only upon submittal of a completed Travel Authorization & Expense form to the applicable department director, documenting all expenses together with original receipts.  Approved claims will then be forwarded to the Finance Department for processing.

3.   A copy of the conference/seminar brochure that the employee is attending must be attached to the original request for Travel Authorization and Expense Form.

4.   Final approval for reimbursement and payment of travel expenses must be submitted with detailed receipts and original approved Travel Authorization and Expense Form that had previously been signed and approved by the applicable department head, within five (5) working days of the employees return from travel.

3.4     Transportation 

All modes of transportation shall be in the best interest of the City of Show Low and approved at the discretion of the applicable department director.  Employees choosing modes of travel, which are not in the City’s best interest, as determined by the applicable department director, shall be responsible for the difference in expense over the suggested mode.

3.4.1       Air 

Airfare costs should be paid by City credit card whenever possible.

Air coach transportation will be considered standard for out-of-state travel.  Round trip tickets shall be purchased and receipts for such travel must be submitted even if payment is made directly by the City.  Reimbursement will be for the exact amount of airfare only.  Whenever possible the employee shall make reservations far enough in advance to receive the discounted fare. When the employee makes personal stops en-route to a business destination point, the employee will only be reimbursed for the discounted round-trip coach fare directly to the business destination point.

Any frequent flier miles earned accrue to the individual making the flight and not to the City.  However, criteria for flight selection must always be based on the lowest-priced airfare rather than the opportunity for personal benefit of the traveling employee.

Use of other modes of transportation (bus, rail, city vehicle, personal vehicle, etc.) may be approved by the department head based on circumstances of travel that render air transportation uneconomical or impractical.

When air, bus, or rail transportation is used, expenses for local transportation, such as taxicab and bus fare, will be allowed whenever such transportation is necessary in the conduct of City business.  Employees should check ahead to see if a shuttle service is available for airport pick-up to conference or seminar locations.  It is the employee’s responsibility to use the most economical means available for transportation and parking in order to maintain control over their departmental travel budget. 

3.4.2   City Vehicle 

Employees traveling on approved City business are encouraged to utilize a City of Show Low fleet vehicle.  Use of personal vehicles is allowed only with the prior approval of the applicable department director and in accordance with the following  “Personal Vehicle” section of these policies and procedures.

3.4.3   Personal Vehicle 

If a City car is not available and/or prior approval has been obtained from the applicable department director, the City will reimburse the use of the employee’s personal vehicle at the rate of $.485 per mile.  This rate is linked to the mileage reimbursement equal to that allowable under the Internal Revenue Service regulations and may vary from year to year (contact the Finance Department for current year rates).  If a City car is available and the employee makes the personal choice to use his/her personal vehicle, the mileage rate of $.200 per mile will apply. The total reimbursable cost for transportation shall not exceed the cost of a round trip discounted airfare.  When a personal vehicle is used for out-of-state travel in lieu of traveling by air, (personal trips are not mileage reimbursable), the most direct route from Show Low will be used for car mileage.  Consult the following mileage table for standard distance to frequently traveled cities.  Note:  All employees are required to carry proper levels of insurance to be authorized to drive a privately owned vehicle on City business.

Mileage Table

                        Destination                                           Standard Mileage (one way) 

                        Phoenix                                                            190

                        Tucson                                                             200

                        Flagstaff                                                           150

Albuquerque                                                     280 

It is a personal choice of the employee to travel by vehicle in lieu of air travel and/or use of a City vehicle; therefore, any travel problems created by this choice are the responsibility of the employee.  The City mileage reimbursement in this situation covers insurance costs and if an accident does occur on City business in the employee’s personal car, the employee’s insurance will be fully responsible.

3.4.4   Rental Car 

If a rental car is necessary for City business, the Travel Authorization form must include the reason the rental is required.

Information should be obtained about available ground transportation and costs from the organization sponsoring the conference (often conference materials will contain such information).  Be sure to inquire about all ground transportation and use the most economical in figuring comparative costs, as reimbursement will be made accordingly.  Costs for shuttles or buses are often less than taxi services.

Reservations should be secured and rental fees paid with a City credit card.  If non-City employees are traveling in a rental car, it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure that adequate insurance coverage exists for all passengers.

All quotes should be based on a two-door compact/midsize vehicle and reflect total estimated costs (i.e. base 24-hour rental, grace periods beyond the 24-hour period, hourly pro-rata cost, mileage costs, any special or discount rates available).

Note:  The City will NOT reimburse the employee for insurance charges.  The City of Show Low is self-insured for vehicle property and liability costs. Therefore, the employee should refuse the additional insurance coverage offered by the rental agency. If the employee is involved in an accident while driving a rental car on City business, notify the City of Show Low Risk Management office (928) 532-4027 as soon as possible so the City can arrange to handle the claim with the rental car agency.

Additionally, it should be noted that most rental car agencies will not accept a city credit card at the time of rental, as the name on the credit card does not match the employee/drivers picture identification and drivers license.  Therefore, a personal credit card may be required until final payment is made with the City credit card.

3.4.5   Lodging 

Lodging is permitted a minimum of 50 miles distance from the City of Show Low, unless otherwise approved by the department director, prior to travel.

Lodging expenses should be paid by a City of Show Low credit card whenever possible.  If paid by the employee with a personal credit card or cash, these lodging expenses are reimbursable only when supported with original detailed hotel receipts.  A credit card charge slip is not an acceptable receipt for purchasing documentation.

Lodging arrangements should be made at the single room, moderate rate.  Seminar, conference, or governmental discount rates should be requested.  Where the employee’s family has attended, any difference between single and actual lodging rates should be noted and adjusted as a non-allowable expense, and therefore not charged to a City credit card.  Expenses for personal or vacation time used before or after necessary City business are also non-allowable expenses.

3.4.6   Other Non-Reimbursable Lodging Expenses 

Other than local calls, no telephone calls should be made on the hotel telephone.  The City of Show Low will provide prepaid calling cards for employee use while traveling.  In addition to business use, employees are permitted one ten (10) minute personal call per day on the calling card.  (Use of the hotel modem for fax machine or e-mail transmittals for business purposes only is permitted, provided that the hotel receipt notes these services as “business calls”).

Additional hotel services purchased for personal comfort, convenience or entertainment (such as dry cleaning, video rental, room service in excess of the per diem maximum) are not reimbursable.

3.5     Per Diem 

Employees will be authorized a per diem allowance of $42.00 per day for both in-state and out-of-state travel (unless the per diem amount is larger in other states, in accordance with the GSA).   The daily per diem is intended to cover the costs of meals and all gratuities given while traveling.  (This includes, but is not limited to, lodging tips, cab fare tips, shuttle fare tips, rental car tips, etc.)

The City of Show Low will provide a City credit card or cash advance to cover the cost of meals with gratuity, laundry, tips, and other incidental travel expenses.   If a City credit card is used for per diem expenses, receipts should not exceed the daily per diem rate.

Partial per diem rates shall be provided based on the time of travel.  The following are examples only and do not regulate actual meal cost:

Breakfast          $9.50 of the travel per diem allowance (must be on travel status prior to 7:00 a.m.)

 

Lunch               $11.00 of daily per diem allowance (must be on travel status prior to 12:00 noon)

 

Dinner              $21.50 of daily per diem allowance (must be on travel status prior to 6:00 p.m.)

 

A per diem allowance will be given for conference/seminars that do not include meals as a part of the registration fee.  If meals are included, per diem will be reduced accordingly for each meal provided in accordance with the above chart.  Subsistence expenses resulting from travel to and from the conference or seminar will be included in the per diem rate if the travel occurs within the applicable timelines.

Group functions with a consolidated overall billing to the City are not eligible for a per diem allowance; rather, participating employees traveling to a group function shall use a City credit card for their actual additional costs.

 

3.5.1   Ineligible Charges 

Personal charges shall not be made to a City credit card.

Alcoholic beverages shall not be charged to a City credit card and are not allowable expenses for reimbursement – unless necessary for economic and community development purposes (these alcohol charges must be pre-approved by the City Manager). 

Additionally, employees consuming alcoholic beverages shall not operate a City vehicle.

3.5.2   Exceptions 

If it can be demonstrated, prior to departure, that the customary per diem allowance is insufficient for the travel destination, or documented through detailed receipts upon return, additional costs may be reimbursed at the discretion of the City Manager or a majority of the City Council (as applicable).  The General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule of Per Diem Rates (may be obtained from the Human Resources Department) should be used in determining appropriate adjusted per diem rates.


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