Chapter 2.60


2.60.005    Policies--General.

2.60.010    Repealed.

2.60.015    Repealed.

2.60.020    Repealed.

2.60.030    Fleet card services.

2.60.040    Purpose.

2.60.050    References.

2.60.060    Definitions.

2.60.070    Reimbursement.

2.60.080    Excess travel time is allocated as vacation time.

2.60.090    Advanced travel.

2.60.100    Approval of travel expenses.

2.60.110    Nontravel status travel expenses.

2.60.120    Use of city credit cards.

2.60.130    Exception to use of city credit cards.

2.60.140    Documentation of expenses.

2.60.150    Each person submits individual expenses.

2.60.160    Eligible expenditures other than meals.

2.60.170    Meal expenses.

2.60.180    Ineligible meals.

2.60.190    Per diem rates.

2.60.200    Example chart.

2.60.005 Policies--General.

A. Needs of the City. The need for travel is based on the requirements of the city and, while the convenience of the elected and appointed officials should be considered, the city requirements shall be the more important factor.

B. Sharing of Costs. Elected and appointed officials attending the same function should share transportation whenever possible. If not feasible due to different departure times, dates, or other approved reason, the most cost-effective method is to be used. Shared lodging is not required. If elected and appointed officials incur extra expenses for their own convenience, they will be required to pay for the additional costs.

C. Travel to and from Home. Travel to and from one’s home to City Hall or other meetings in Wapato is not a reimbursable travel expense.

D. Travel Expenses Will Not Be Advanced. Travel expenses will not be advanced to the elected or appointed official. All travel expenses will be reimbursed pursuant to this chapter.

E. Those persons with access to city-owned vehicles shall use the fleet card services provided for all fuel purchases for the vehicle. (Ord. 1307 §23(A), 2015)

2.60.010 Travel expenses paid when--Mayor approval required.

Repealed by Ord. 1307.  (Ord. 1011 §2(part), 1996)

2.60.015 Restrictions on city charge card use.

Repealed by Ord. 1307.  (Ord. 1011 §2(part), 1996)

2.60.020 Reimbursement for use of private vehicle.

Repealed by Ord. 1307.  (Ord. 1011 §2(part), 1996)

2.60.030 Fleet card services.

All personnel who are authorized to use city-owned vehicles may be issued a fleet card to purchase fuel for said vehicles. Personnel issued a fleet card shall only use the fleet card for fuel purchases for city-owned vehicles. Use of personal credit cards for fuel purchases for city-owned vehicles by those issued fleet cards and use of fleet cards for purchasing fuel for personal vehicles is prohibited. (Ord. 1307 §23(B), 2015)

2.60.040 Purpose.

To establish a policy and procedure related to obtaining travel authorization, advance travel funds, and expenditure or reimbursement authorization for expenses incurred in conduct of business of the city. (Ord. 1307 §23(C), 2015)

2.60.050 References.

Chapter 42.24 RCW, Chapter 3.48 and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations must be followed in addition to the rules and regulations outlined in this chapter. (Ord. 1307 §23(D), 2015)

2.60.060 Definitions.

A. “Conference” examples may include, but are not limited to, a symposium, seminar, forum, or convention associated with a league, association, alliance, etc. It can be interpreted to include any formal training session typically attended by an audience from a wide geographic area and organized by a regionally or nationally known entity.

B. “Eligible meals” means meals which are sufficiently related to work that the cost will be paid by the city. Eligible meals can be purchased, subject to this policy and tax regulations, on either a taxable or nontaxable basis.

C. Employee. References to “employee” can also be interpreted to include all other authorized personnel associated with the city.

D. “Hosting” for regulatory purposes includes but is not limited to those activities that are intended to lobby or influence any elected official, governmental official, or vendor and are normally social rather than a governmental business event, and further, normally includes expenditures for meals.

E. Ineligible Expenses. None of the following expenses shall be paid by the city:  travel paid for by any other organization, alcoholic beverages, valet services (except as noted in Section 2.60.160(D)), meals or lodging accommodations for family or guests, tour bus fees for sightseeing tours, mileage if traveling as a passenger in a privately owned car, trip insurance, hosting, or any other personal expenditure for entertainment or other purposes.

F. “Ineligible meals” means meals which do not meet the IRS qualifications for a tax-free meal or are not sufficiently related to work or employee convenience to justify city payment.

G. Per Diem Rates. The city uses per diem rates for housing, meals and incidentals as established by the Office of the General Services Administration (GSA) or as hereafter amended and maintained by the Washington State Office of Financial Management. The most current per diem rates can be found at the city clerk/treasurer’s office. Per diem rates include tax and gratuity.

H. “Reimbursement” can also be interpreted to mean “paid for by the city.”  Eligible expenses need not necessarily be reimbursements to the individual, they can be expenses paid by the city directly to the vendor.

I. “Special event” means an event that is not regularly scheduled. If scheduled, it occurs no more frequently than annually.

J. Tax Home. The IRS identifies “tax home” as your regular place of business regardless of where you maintain your family home. It includes the entire city or general area in which your business or work is located.

K. Travel Status. The IRS defines “travel status” as a time when your duties require you to be away from the general area of your “tax home” substantially longer than an ordinary day’s work, and you need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home. (In almost all cases, this means an overnight stay is involved.)  (Ord. 1307 §23(E), 2015)

2.60.070 Reimbursement.

It is the policy of the city of Wapato to reimburse city elected and appointed officials, employees, and members of the boards and commissions for their reasonable expenses actually incurred in the conduct of their business for the city. Generally, eligible expenditures include travel and living costs incurred by the individual while away from the city and necessitated by city business. Reimbursement for such necessary and reasonable expenses will be made subject to the rules herein by application and upon compliance with this policy and with Chapter 42.24 RCW. Such expenditures will be commensurate with the employee’s normal standard of living, but is assumed and expected that expenses will be consistent with the best interests of the city and its desire to minimize travel costs. Such expenses should first be authorized as provided for in this chapter. (Ord. 1307 §23(F), 2015)

2.60.080 Excess travel time is allocated as vacation time.

Any normal travel time in excess of one day each way, which is brought about by the employee’s choice of transportation, will be charged to the employee as vacation time.   Paid time for travel shall be clearly resolved in accordance with FLSA guidelines in advance of authorizing travel. Employees and department directors should coordinate travel time expectations. (Ord. 1307 §23(G), 2015)

2.60.090 Advanced travel.

A. Payment in advance for such travel expense may be authorized by the Wapato city clerk/treasurer. An advance to the employee for approved anticipated travel expenses will not be paid when total estimated expenditures are less than fifty dollars.

B. Travel advances are intended for out-of-pocket expense to be paid by the employee during authorized travel.

C. Travel advances are not intended for travel tickets, pre-registration fees, prepaid lodging and other such items which can normally be billed to the city, paid through the regular accounts payable system, or city credit card. Employees are expected to plan ahead for such items, as these items are not included in a travel advance.

D. Travel advances are considered liens against any amount owed by the city to the employee. Any amounts in default may be withheld by the city from funds owed to the employee. No advance will be made to an employee who has an advance which is in default. Any employee with a demonstrated history of advance travel defaults may be barred from receiving advance travel funds by the mayor, or department director, as appropriate. Also, failure of employees to abide by these rules could lead to disciplinary action, to include dismissal. (Ord. 1307 §23(H), 2015)

2.60.100 Approval of travel expenses.

Travel and expense reimbursement or credit card payment authorization under this policy must be signed, approved, and filed in the finance department on a city purchase order, or a petty cash slip if under twenty dollars. Normally, claims for reimbursement and credit card charge receipts are to be submitted no later than five working days after the return from travel. Ongoing approval responsibility for specific travel, reimbursement for expenditures and credit card charges shall be made, pursuant to normal purchase order duly verified by the claimant, and submitted for final approval as noted below:

A. If council or other commissions or boards -– approval will be made by the mayor.

B. If the mayor -– approval will be made by the city clerk/treasurer.

C. If department director -– approval by the mayor.

D. If other employees -– by the department director. (Ord. 1307 §23(I), 2015)

2.60.110 Nontravel status travel expenses.

Nontravel status travel expense needs to be pre-approved prior to being incurred unless the individual who would normally approve such expenditures after the fact has set a policy in writing that does not require such pre-approval.

A. Where pre-approval has not been required and the person proposing to incur the expense has any question about the legitimacy of the expense, pre-approval should be obtained.

B. Individuals who incur nontravel status travel expense without pre-approval incur such expense at their own peril; i.e., if reimbursement or authorization of the expense is not approved, the expense will be the individual’s personal obligation. (Ord. 1307 §23(J), 2015)

2.60.120 Use of city credit cards.

Department managers may issue their department credit cards. The act of obtaining a city credit card does not indicate pre-approval of expenses. City credit cards can only be used for the following travel-related expenses:

A. To pay conference registration and conference-provided meal fees.

B. To pay for eligible transportation-related costs such as airfare and parking fees.

C. To pay for eligible lodging costs.

D. To pay for eligible meals, unless the employee is choosing to purchase meals that have already been purchased through conference meal fees or provided by the conference through its registration fee. (Ord. 1307 §23(K), 2015)

2.60.130 Exception to use of city credit cards.

A. A city credit card cannot be used when any portion of the expense will be the responsibility of the individual. For example, if lodging costs were higher because of an additional guest in the room, only the portion of the lodging cost attributable to the city can be charged to the city credit card.

B. City credit cards cannot be used for any meal expenses, whether in travel status or not, except as defined in this chapter. (Ord. 1307 §23(L), 2015)

2.60.140 Documentation of expenses.

A. All actual expenses shall be submitted to the finance department on approved form. In the case of lodging expense, a detailed statement of charges must be submitted. Each employee is expected to submit his/her own travel expense voucher reflecting reimbursable expenses actually incurred.

B. If lodging accommodations are shared between two or more employees, the lodging portion of the billing for all such employees may be submitted by the employee paying the bill.

C. Claim of any charge which could reasonably raise a question should be accompanied by an explanation of such charge.

D. If the employee is attending a conference, documentation about the conference or training (agenda or some other documentation indicating time and location) will be required.

E. If the employee is asking for reimbursement for mileage, documentation on how far the event is from their city office is required. This can be done with Google Maps, MapQuest, or other mapping program.

F. Individuals may be reimbursed for single nontravel status meal expense from the petty cash fund, provided proper documentation and approval is submitted. (See examples 1 and 2 and 10 through 16 in table in Section 2.60.200.)  (Ord. 1307 §23(M), 2015)

2.60.150 Each person submits individual expenses.

Except for lodging where individuals share the same room or transportation conveyance (cab, rental car, etc.), each individual seeking reimbursement must incur his/her own expense and seek individual reimbursement. The only exceptions are group meals arranged for working sessions or banquets arranged by the department. (Ord. 1307 §23(N), 2015)

2.60.160 Eligible expenditures other than meals.

A. Registration. Actual cost of any employee at a meeting, conference, or convention for which he/she has received approval. Registration should be prepaid. The finance department is to be contacted in sufficient time to process the registration with regular accounts payable procedures. If it is not possible to prepay registration fees, receipts must be submitted for reimbursement, or accompany the credit card billing statement.

B. Transportation costs as follows:

1. Actual costs for bus travel, train travel, taxi, tolls, car rentals, parking fees and air travel are eligible, provided all air travel shall be by coach class unless only higher cost accommodations are available.

2. Employees using a personally owned auto to travel out of town on city business will be reimbursed at the Internal Revenue Service rate, and provided payment will not exceed coach class airfare to and from the same destination.

C. Lodging. Actual cost of hotel or motel accommodations is eligible. If a family member or guest accompanies the employee, the employee shall pay for the amount over that of a single accommodation. The single accommodation rate must be noted on the hotel/motel bill submitted.

D. Laundry and Valet Service. Actual cost of laundry and/or valet service are allowable expenses when employees are required to be away from the city for more than six days at one time or the conditions under which they are required to work while away from the city create a more than normal need for such services.

E. Telephone. Charges for telephone are eligible for reimbursement if city business requires such communication. Employees staying outside of Wapato city limits on business are allowed reimbursement for one long-distance personal call per day at city expense. Such calls shall not exceed ten minutes in duration. Any personal calls in excess of one per day are to be paid by the employee. City-owned cell phones are not to be used for personal calls or text messages. (Ord. 1307 §23(O), 2015)

2.60.170 Meal expenses.

A. Meals. Meals associated with work by city employees are either eligible meals or ineligible meals as defined in Section 2.60.060 and further outlined herein.

B. Eligible Meals.

1. Unless the meal is provided by the conference organizers, as part of the conference agenda, an eligible meal expense will only be reimbursed at the Washington State Office of Financial Management applicable per diem rate.

2. No meals shall be reimbursed if the meal was provided at the conference or paid for through the conference registration or conference fee.

3. Meals for city council, boards, commissions and staff conducting formal city business during meal times are specifically authorized.

4. Meals consumed while in travel status. Such meals shall be reimbursed on a tax-free basis consistent with IRS rules.

C. Taxable Eligible Meals.

1. Certain meals consumed on official city business which do not meet the IRS definition of a travel status meal but require a city employee to travel outside Wapato city limits are eligible for reimbursement by the city.

2. Nontravel status meals may be paid for via city credit card.

3. Such nontravel status meals are subject to income tax withholding. Reimbursements for nontravel status meals shall be taxed as income to the employee consistent with IRS rules.

4. Taxable meals shall be reimbursed on the basis of the per diem rates established by the city for travel status meals.

D. Credit card use is specifically authorized for meal expenses. Receipts shall be provided to the appropriate department head or official within five days of return from the conference or within five days of the meal. If receipts are not provided, the meal expense shall be reimbursed to the city. (Ord. 1307 §23(P), 2015)

2.60.180 Ineligible meals.

Expenses for meals, where city business is conducted and that could reasonably occur during non-meal periods, are not eligible for reimbursement. Generally, meals consumed within Wapato city limits are ineligible for reimbursement. See example number 16 in the table in Section 2.60.200 for an exception to this rule. City credit cards shall not be used for ineligible meals. (Ord. 1307 §23(Q), 2015)

2.60.190 Per diem rates.

A. Individuals on travel status shall be reimbursed for meal expense using per diem rates from the Washington State Office of Financial Management.

B. Meal and incidental expense (M&IE) per diem rates will be applied using Washington State Office of Financial Management rates.

C. M&IE per diem will be reduced by the amount of any meal not related to the travel and the amount of any meal provided as part of the conference or training. Incidental expenses can be prorated based upon the number of reimbursed meals. (Ord. 1307 §23(R), 2015)

2.60.200 Example chart.

The following chart is intended to provide examples for implementation of this policy:

City of Wapato Meal Policy

Policy Application Examples 

Eligible, Reimbursed and Subject to Income Tax Withholding

(NOTE: City credit card may be used for these meals)


An employee attends one-day training in Seattle (outside of Wapato city limits) and lunch is not included in the registration fee

Eligible/Reimbursed/Taxable Meal


An employee or elected official travels to Ellensburg (outside of Wapato city limits) for a work-related meeting which extends into a meal period and returns on the same day

Eligible/Reimbursed/Taxable Meal

Ineligible Meals

(NOTE: City credit card may NOT be used for these meals)

(To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, staff should not allow consultants, vendors, or others doing business with the city to pay for meals)


Consultant invites city administrator, department manager or staff to lunch locally (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal


An employee/elected official “hosts” another elected/government official or vendor for a meal (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal


An employee attends four-hour morning training at YVCC and lunch is not included in the registration fee

Ineligible Meal


City administrator meets regularly with regional city managers at a local restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal


Department manager or staff meet regularly with regional counterpart for any meal at a local restaurant (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal


Councilmember asks to meet with employee over lunch at a local restaurant to discuss regional/city issues (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal


Council has a regularly scheduled early morning committee meeting and breakfast is ordered for staff and officials (regardless of location)

Ineligible Meal

Eligible, Reimbursed and

Not Subject to Income Tax

(NOTE: City credit card may be used for these meals)


Council has a nonregular, early work session at 5:30 p.m., prior to 7:00 p.m. council meeting. Participating staff are invited to order dinner to be delivered for the meeting

Reimbursed / Tax Free


An employee attends training out of town which includes an overnight stay and a meal is not included in the registration fee

Reimbursed / Tax Free


Department manager asks employee to fill in for him/her at a local breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting (same day notice, no advance notice given)

Reimbursed / Tax Free


An employee is required to work through lunch or take a shortened lunch due to emergency or special project

Reimbursed / Tax Free


An employee attends a not regularly scheduled business meeting on behalf of the city during breakfast, lunch or dinner. The meeting is held locally and the meal is consumed as part of meeting.

Reimbursed / Tax Free


An intergovernmental agency calls a special meeting in Yakima to discuss regional issues. Lunch is purchased by the Wapato staff and officials attending and consumed while the meeting is conducted.

Reimbursed/Tax Free


A meal is provided by the conference or special event (regardless of location) organizers, whether or not it is included in the registration fee or in addition to, for which the meal has a business purpose such as a keynote speaker. (This meal is not subject to the per diem limits referenced in Section 2.60.190.)

Reimbursed/Tax Free

(Ord. 1307 §23(S), 2015)