Town Council Adopts Travel Expense Policy

Published 10:33 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

FARMVILLE — The Town of Farmville expects its new travel policy for Town employees, town council members and administration to go far.

And in the appropriate fiscal direction.

Reacting to the McDonnell scandal, town council unanimously adopted a lodging, meal and incidentals policy for those traveling on official Town business. Town council used the State’s policy as a “template,” explained Finance and Ordinance Committee chairman, Jamie Davis.

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Mileage reimbursement rates will be those set by the Internal Revenue Service and all overnight lodging must be approved by the town manager or department head prior to registering for a conference or training.

Lodging expenses are limited to the actual cost of the room, with first consideration given to the hotel hosting the event.

But the Town will not pay for any hotel lodging for any single-day event less than two hours away.

As for meal expenditure reimbursements, the per diem is $7 for breakfast, $11 for lunch and $23 for dinner.

However, if the cost of a meal, or meals, is included with any convention, conference or seminar fees then there will be no reimbursement.

Disallowed expenses include: lost or stolen articles, alcoholic beverages, damage to personal vehicles, clothing or other items, movies charged to hotel bills, entertainment expenses, towing charges, services to gain entry to a locked vehicle, all expenses related to personal negligence of the traveler, such as fines, travel insurance and non-conference expenses for spouses and guests.”

The Town’s policy stresses, furthermore, that the list of disallowed expenses “is not all-inclusive. Travelers should use prudent judgment and remember that all travel expense accounts are open to the public.”

The major point of discussion during town council’s December work session and regular monthly meeting was on the change in wording from “Expenses for children, spouses and companions on travel” as disallowed, to “Non-conference expenses for spouses and guests.”

“At the last council meeting I passed out employee-council policies for out of town expenditures, and everything in there—we base…some of it off existing policies, some of it off of what we felt should be changed to meet more of today’s criteria,” Davis explained to his fellow town council members.

“Talking with committee members, we would like that to be changed to: disallowed expenses would read non-conference expenses for spouses or guests,” Davis said.

Basically, Davis went on to explain, that would mean “a ticketed event for a spouse or guest at a approved event, such as VML (Virginia Municipal League), then it’s perfectly acceptable for that expense to be allowed. What it would not allow is meal expenditures for spouses or guests at those events, only cover the ticketed part of the event.”

New town council member Dan Dwyer asked about ticketed events and Davis explained that “VML has ticketed certain events for spouses that take place while you’re in a meeting,” such as historical tours of that community.

“They do this to make sure the spouse feels included,” Davis continued.

“Our recommendation is to pay, for the spouse or guest, the ticketed events. That would not cover their meals, that would just cover the ticketed events for them.”

As for the hotel room, Davis said that “generally speaking, a hotel room, whether it’s single or double, it’s the same price, so no issue there.”