Chapter 3.100
TRAVEL AND EXPENSE POLICY

Sections:

3.100.010    Philosophy.

3.100.020    Scope.

3.100.030    Policy.

3.100.040    Pre-approved conference meetings, programs and activities for board members.

3.100.010 Philosophy.

It is Hi-Desert Water District’s philosophy and policy that travelers incur minimum expenditures for reasonable standards of comfort, safety and convenience in the conduct of business and that any such out-of-pocket expenses incurred in accordance with this chapter be promptly reimbursed. [Res. 10-13 Add. D].

3.100.020 Scope.

Hi-Desert Water District’s board of directors and employees (traveler). [Res. 10-13 Add. D].

3.100.030 Policy.

This policy will not address every potential situation that could arise. It should be noted that the chief financial officer and general manager will have the final say on any expenditure not specifically addressed in this chapter. Therefore, if in doubt, please contact the accounting department prior to incurring a questionable expense.

A. Travel.

1. Travel Advance. Travel advance pertains to advances issued to an employee or board member in the form of a check or the other prepaid travel arrangement (i.e., airline ticket, hotel reservations, conference registration, etc.) by Hi-Desert Water District for authorized travel. Travel advances are to be used for official Hi-Desert Water District business purposes only.

a. If a ticket must be purchased by the company, a check request form made payable to the approved party must be submitted to A/P five days prior to issuance of the ticket, or the district credit card can be used providing supporting receipts are submitted to accounts payable. Approval must include the functional supervisor (if

applicable) and the chief financial officer or general manager.

b. Travel advances are intended to cover significant out-of-pocket travel expenses and may be authorized to cover expenditures while on business trips if the traveler does not have a corporate credit card.

c. The traveler assumes personal responsibility for any tickets or funds advanced.

d. An advance for a canceled trip must be returned immediately.

e. If the advance exceeds the expenses incurred, a check for the balance due must be submitted with the expense report.

2. Reimbursement of Travel Expenses.

a. All reimbursable expenses pertaining to a trip are paid for actual amounts incurred and must be processed on an expense report immediately after returning from a trip to assure timely reimbursement. Expense reports must be submitted within 30 days from the date the expense was incurred to be eligible for reimbursement. Any and all exceptions must be due to unusual circumstances and must have approval by the general manager or chief financial officer.

b. The immediate supervisor and general manager or chief financial officer, prior to submittal to A/P for processing, must approve all expense reports to assure compliance with this policy. No employee may approve his/her own expense report.

i. In the event that an employee’s immediate supervisor is out of town, the next level of authority should approve the expense reports.

c. The approval amount is equal to the total expenses before deduction of advances.

d. Travel to meetings, conferences or seminars outside district boundaries where air travel is available may be reimbursable through a mileage rate should the traveler choose to drive their own vehicle; however, the total reimbursable amount for mileage may not exceed the cost of round trip coach airfare.

3. Expense Substantiation. It is the responsibility of the traveler to fill out an expense report in a timely manner (within 30 days). The traveler also assumes primary responsibility for compliance with this policy. It is the responsibility of the approver to assure that the expenses are valid, necessary, approved and appropriately submitted to A/P. Both the employee or board member and the approver share the responsibility to assure that the expenses are kept to the minimum necessary to conduct business.

a. The company pays all necessary travel and business expenses incurred in the performance of district-related business.

b. Employees and board members are expected to incur the minimum expenses consistent with business and reasonable standards of comfort, safety and convenience.

c. It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain prior approval for any expense that may be considered unusual or subject to interpretation. Written clarification of this must accompany the traveler’s expense report.

d. Expense reports are to be completely filled out.

e. Indicate the locations visited for all days’ expenses incurred. Also indicate the nature or purpose of the business.

f. All travel expenses incurred must be substantiated with an original receipt, ticket, bill or other appropriate documentation, except for receipts that are not customarily available. The original receipt or airline ticket stub and copy of itinerary must be included with receipts.

g. If a receipt is not given, an explanation must be included in the miscellaneous expenses section of the expense report. Any expenses without receipts will require the general manager or chief financial officer’s approval.

h. An airline ticket cannot be expensed until after travel is completed.

i. When a traveler signs the expense report, they are stating that all expenditures listed are true and correct, clearly and correctly described, and supported by receipts.

j. All expense reports require approval by the immediate supervisor and general manager or chief financial officer.

4. Flight Selection.

a. Flight reservations are to be arranged through the executive assistant or by the traveler.

b. Travelers must utilize the lowest discount coach class fare consistent with business requirements available at the time the reservation is made. To this end, travelers are encouraged to plan their trips as far in advance as possible to take advantage of advance purchase tickets.

5. Combined Personal and Business Travel. If elective personal travel is combined with business travel, only the business portion will be reimbursed.

a. The personal travel portion must be specifically communicated to the travel agency for cost breakdown.

b. Business costs to be reimbursed by the company should be indicated on all receipts.

c. When possible, travelers should avoid paying both personal and business expenses on the same bill.

6. Ground Transportation. Rental car, limousine, taxi, train, buses and parking tolls are reimbursed at actual amount. Cars should be rented only when doing so represents the most economic form of travel or if the nature of the business activity dictates that a car be used. Public transportation, taxis, shared vehicles and all other forms of economical travel should be considered. When employees or board members are traveling together and car rental is required, the vehicle should be shared unless the business activity dictates otherwise. The following must be included in the expense report:

a. Total amounts by day for ground transportation.

b. Indicate driver tips separately.

c. Parking charges, bridge and road tolls will be reimbursed at face value, as well as taxi and limousine fares.

d. Travel to and from the airport will be reimbursed at current mileage rates along with parking fees (unless the employee has a car allowance).

e. Long-term parking lots should be used, unless the cost to do so exceeds round-trip taxi fare.

7. Personal Vehicle. Employees and board members must have a valid driver’s license and carry liability insurance consistent with approved minimums to be eligible to use a personal vehicle on company business. The minimum acceptable automobile insurance shall be the minimum requirement of the state or country in which the vehicle is operated. Any traveler unable to meet this requirement must not use their personal vehicle on company business and must immediately provide written notice to their supervisor or general manager.

a. When an employee uses a personally owned vehicle to conduct company business, and is not receiving a regular auto allowance, the employee will be reimbursed at current IRS guideline. This is to cover all gas, oil, maintenance, and vehicle depreciation.

b. Employees who receive a monthly auto allowance will not be entitled to mileage reimbursements for travel within 100 miles one-way, but may claim full mileage reimbursement for travel exceeding this limit.

8. Car Rental.

a. The district’s standard classes of rental car are compact or mid-size models, unless district-related business requires a larger car.

b. The traveler is responsible for all out-of-pocket expenses in excess of the district’s recommendation that are not approved in advance by the general manager.

c. Additional/optional insurance coverage should not be purchased when renting a car. The company’s insurance coverage meets all domestic and international requirements.

d. The employee or board member should refuel the car prior to returning it to the rental agency to avoid excessive gasoline charges.

e. Any employee or board member involved in an accident while driving a rental car must immediately report the incident to the rental agency and their supervisor, chief financial officer, or general manager.

9. Shuttle or Taxi. Shuttle or taxi service may be used to travel to/from the departure airport only when the cost is less than or equal to the cost of mileage and parking for the duration of the trip.

B. “Meals” are defined as out-of-town expenditures for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A “meal” expense occurs when an individual, a group of Hi-Desert Water District employees, or board members are traveling and conducting business on Hi-Desert Water District’s behalf. Reasonable costs for meals will be reimbursed at a maximum of $75.00 per day.

1. Receipts are required for all expenditures.

C. Lodging and Accommodations. The executive secretary or individual employee will arrange all individual and group event hotel accommodations. Comfortable, safe, convenient, economically priced hotel accommodations are to be considered at all times.

1. Lodging costs for a single room will be reimbursed.

2. The traveler will be responsible for any deposits required to secure a reservation, such as late arrival guarantee, and will be reimbursed if deposit is applied to the final bill.

D. Telephone, Fax, Telegraph and Network Services.

1. When possible, travelers should avoid placing calls and faxes directly from their hotel in order to avoid costly surcharges.

2. Collect calls will be accepted only in an emergency. All necessary business calls, messages and personal calls due to an emergency or change in schedule are reimbursable.

3. Travelers should limit their personal phone calls to two calls per day. These calls should be noted on the expense report.

4. All business-related phone calls placed from the traveler’s personal phone will be reimbursed. The telephone bill must accompany the expense report.

5. Business and related car phone expenses must be submitted for reimbursement via an expense report.

E. Tipping. An adequate description on the expense report for hotel, taxi, airport tipping, meals, etc. Gratuities and tips up to 20 percent are reimbursable if considered reasonable.

F. Miscellaneous. Any items that do not fit into the categories listed on the expense report must be posted in miscellaneous and an explanation is required on the bottom half of the report. If this explanation is missing, the expense report will be returned to the appropriate approving person, and reimbursement will be delayed. It should be noted that accounting and finance, working with the general manager, will have the final say on any expenditure not specifically addressed in this chapter. Therefore, if in doubt, please contact the accounting department prior to incurring a questionable expense.

G. Flowers. Purchases for flowers may be permissible in the following instances:

1. Death in the employee or board member’s immediate family.

2. Employee or board member illness of extended duration or requiring hospitalization.

H. Nonreimbursable Expenses. The following miscellaneous expenses are considered nonallowable and will not be reimbursed:

1. Alcohol.

2. Tobacco.

3. Traffic violations.

4. Reading material for flights.

5. Credit card fees.

6. Loss or theft of personal items.

7. Travel insurance.

8. Damage to personal property. [Res. 10-13 Add. D].

3.100.040 Pre-approved conference meetings, programs and activities for board members.

A. ACWA Conference.

B. ACWA Region 9.

C. ACWA/JPIA.

D. American Water Works Association (AWWA).

E. Association of San Bernardino County Special Districts.

F. California Special Districts Association (CSDA).

G. Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency.

H. Joshua Basin Water District (JBWD).

I. Mojave Water Agency (MWA).

J. Mojave Water Agency – Morongo Basin Pipeline Commission.

K. Town of Yucca Valley.

L. Regional Water Quality Control Board.

M. Special Districts and Local Government Institute.

N. Coachella Valley Water District.

O. Desert Water Agency.

P. Mission Springs Water District.

Q. 2+2 with the town of Yucca Valley.

R. 2+2+2 with Hi-Desert Water District, Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency, and Joshua Basin Water District.

S. Meetings, summits or conferences with elected officials and/or agency officials regarding matters within the subject matter jurisdiction of the district.

T. Inland Empire Water Agencies and Districts.

U. San Bernardino County Water Conference.

V. San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG).

W. Water Education Foundation.

X. Any activity approved by the Hi-Desert Water District’s board, or board president, or general manager. [Res. 14-05; Res. 13-20; Res. 13-19; Res. 13-03; Res. 12-17; Res. 10-13 Add. D].