[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Doña Ana County 10-11-2006 by Res. No. 2006-113. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to set forth procedures and maximum reimbursement levels for local travel, in-state and out-of-state travel, and for obtaining advance payments and reimbursements. The Board has in the past adopted maximum travel per-diem and mileage rates in accordance with amended NMSA § 10-8-4. Compliance with the Per-Diem and Mileage Act and the regulations set forth by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration is required for all travel using County funds, including grant funds. In all cases, travelers are urged to use good judgment when incurring travel expenses.
This travel, per-diem, and mileage chapter applies to elected officials, all departments, agencies, individuals, and other users authorized to travel using public funds budgeted, administered or controlled by, or otherwise under the supervision of, Doña Ana County government. This chapter establishes policies, procedures, and guidelines relating to travel, per-diem, and mileage.
The Director of Financial Services, under the direction of the County Manager or his/her designee, shall have the responsibility and authority to ensure that all provisions of the Per-Diem and Mileage Act and this chapter are followed. The Director of Financial Services shall be responsible for ensuring that all provisions of this chapter and all other travel, per-diem, and mileage concerns and activities of Doña Ana County are appropriate and consistent with the most current state regulations and provisions of law.
Elected officials and department directors are responsible for:
Screening all travel requests to limit trips, the number of employees traveling, points to be visited, itineraries, and duration of the trips that are essential to the performance of the department's mission.
Exercising control of travel expenses by keeping them within established budget appropriations.
Examining travel destinations to ensure that elected officials and employees travel to destinations that result in the lowest cost to Doña Ana County (i.e., if there are similar seminars, conferences, etc. scheduled throughout the year at various locations, usually the location closest to Las Cruces will be the least expensive).
The Financial Services Department is responsible for verifying and processing the travel forms in accordance with these policies and procedures.
The Financial Services Director or his/her designee, with the approval of the County Manager, is authorized to create, distribute, and require the use of any form deemed necessary for the execution and enforcement of the travel and per-diem policies and procedures, that is consistent with the requirements and the intent of these policies and procedures.
Any individuals authorized by department directors or elected officials to travel utilizing public funds are required to complete, prior to the travel, the appropriate travel and per-diem forms and provide required documentation depending on the travel situation. The individual asking for the travel request is responsible for providing accurate information.
If any provision of these policies and procedures are in conflict with any provision of state law or regulation, including the Per Diem and Mileage Act, then the provisions of state law or regulation shall control. The Financial Services Director, in consultation with County Legal Department, is authorized to interpret any provision of this chapter that is vague or unclear under the circumstances presented, and may provide a written interpretation of the provision, which shall be implemented consistently by all departments and offices.
The following procedures are intended to be consistent with Title 2, Chapter 42, Part 2, of the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) issued by the Department of Finance and Administration.
Out-of-state travel approval. The Board of County Commissioners must approve out-of-state travel for all County employees, except elected officials and employees of elected officials' departments as long as there is an approved budget for the travel. The County Manager or his/her designee may approve out-of-state travel for employees of the Fire Marshal's Office and volunteer fire departments. Elected officials may approve travel for themselves and for employees of the elected official's department. If elected officials or employees are requesting a travel advance for out-of-state travel refer to § 111-10 of this chapter for procedures.
Out-of-state travel approval for Sheriff's Department. Out-of-state travel for investigations and/or transportation and extradition of prisoners by law enforcement officers shall be approved at the discretion of the Sheriff and within court order mandates (under NMSA § 4-44-18). If travel is for transportation and extradition of prisoners, all travel costs should comply with NMSA § 4-44-18, regulations governing the Per Diem and Mileage Act under DFA Rule 95, and any locally adopted County policy. Reimbursement for transportation and extradition-of-prisoner forms as required should be completed and attached to completed request-for-reimbursement travel forms. All other travel, including seminars, conferences, training, etc., shall be governed by this section for procedures.
Under Resolution No 2006-89, the Board of County Commissioners delegated the authority under the Per Diem and Mileage Act to approve advanced travel pay to the County Manager, or designee, for all duly authorized and approved in-state and out-of-state travel by County elected officials and County employees. Under this resolution, the Board of County Commissioners is also authorizing the County Manager, or designee, to approve actual and per-diem travel advances.
Advance payment of estimated travel expenses (exceeding $100 will be paid 80% according to state statutes/County resolutions, subject to change) may be made to an employee who submits an appropriate written travel authorization (including the approval signatures of the department head and the County Manager or his/her designee). A request must be received by accounts payable in the Financial Services Department complete with all signatures and attached approvals 14 days prior to the date of departure.
When a travel advance is made for a trip, all persons (elected officials, employees, nonemployees, and public officials) shall submit all receipts within five days of return from the trip, and will refund any excess advance payment in full along with the return travel authorization form to the Financial Services Department. If return forms and any payments due to the County are not completed as stated, the Financial Services Department will process a deduction for the full amount from the person's payroll check. Acceptance and understanding of this policy is agreed to when the person signs the travel authorization form.
A return-from-travel authorization form must be submitted for advance per-diem requests, including per-diem checks picked up after the trip has occurred.
Advances may be picked up no earlier than one working day before the travel is to start.
Partial-day per-diem rate. Elected officials or employees who occasionally and irregularly travel shall be reimbursed for travel which does not require overnight lodging, but extends beyond a normal workday as follows:
"Occasionally and irregularly" means not on a regular basis and infrequently as determined by the agency. For example, an employee is not entitled to per-diem rates under this section if the employee either travels once a week or travels every fourth Thursday of the month. However, the employee is entitled to per-diem rates under this section if the employee either travels once a month with irregular destinations and at irregular times or travels four times in one month and then does not travel again in the next two months, so long as this is not a regular pattern.
"Normal workday" means eight hours within a nine-hour period for all elected officials and employees both salaried and nonsalaried, regardless of the officer's or employee's regular work schedule. (NMAC 220.127.116.11.B.1)
Overnight travel. Regardless of the number of hours traveled, travel for elected officials and employees where overnight lodging is required shall be reimbursed as follows:
[Amended 9-27-2011 by Ord. No. 235-2011]
Return from overnight travel. On the last day of travel when overnight lodging is no longer required, partial-day reimbursement shall be made. To calculate the number of hours in the partial day, begin with the time the traveler initially departed. Divide the number of hours traveled by 24. The hours remaining constitute the partial day that shall be reimbursed as follows:
Actual per-diem expenses paid to County elected officials, employees, public officials and nonemployees (as noted under NMSA §§ 10-8-1 to 10-8-7, and DFA Rule 2.42.2) that are greater overall than the standard per-diem rate may be reimbursed, provided the following conditions are met:
Copies of paid receipts are required for all per-diem expenses incurred, including meals. Such expenses shall be paid with the approval of the department head based on a determination that expenses are economically practical and incurred in the discharge of authorized County business within the limits as stated in this policy.
Payment shall be limited to $30 per day for in-state travel and $45 per day for out-of-state travel as maximum amounts for all meals within a twenty-four-hour period as per NMSA § 10-8-4L(2), regardless of amounts spent or receipts submitted. (Note: This amount cannot include any alcoholic beverages.)
[Amended 9-27-2011 by Ord. No. 235-2011]
When standard per-diem is requested as advance travel pay, and, upon return with receipts, it is evident that expenses incurred were greater than the standard per-diem amount and are considered economically practical, then actual expenses can be claimed with the approval of the County Manager or his/her designee if all original receipts are attached.
When actual per-diem has been requested and approved, under no circumstances can the per-diem be changed back to standard per-diem.
Lodging will be paid at the single occupancy rate, with the exception of when two persons on County business share one room. The person receiving the per-diem for the lodging will be paid the double occupancy rate. The County will not pay the double occupancy rate for family or friends who room with the person receiving per-diem.
The County will not pay for any extra days that do not pertain to County business.
Reimbursements for per-diem, mileage, expenses, academy training, conferences, seminars and all other travel will be to the destination most economical to the taxpayers of Doña Ana County.
Elected officials, employees and nonemployees of Doña Ana County shall be reimbursed for travel by private conveyance in the discharge of official duties as follows:
Privately owned vehicle at a rate of 80% of the mileage rate allowable for business expense purposes set by the United States Internal Revenue Service, as provided for in the New Mexico Regulations for Mileage - Private Conveyances, currently NMAC §18.104.22.168, and as amended.
[Amended 9-27-2011 by Ord. No. 235-2011]
Privately owned aircraft at a rate not to exceed the current lowest coach class commercial airfare, after County verifies the current rates of at least two commercial airlines prior to reimbursement, for routes traveled by commercial airlines. Otherwise, a rate of $0.40 per nautical mile shall be reimbursed for use of privately owned aircraft.
Mileage may be reimbursed based upon map mileage or actual mileage. Map mileage is reimbursed based strictly on distances shown on the official state map published by the State Highway and Transportation Department, or electronic maps such as Mapquest found on Internet-based websites like Yahoo or Google for distances in New Mexico or the most recent edition of the Rand McNally road atlas for distances outside of New Mexico. Any actual mileage claimed in excess of 50 miles beyond map mileage will require odometer readings before and after the additional travel. Justification for the additional travel is also required.
Actual mileage shall require odometer readings before and after travel, purpose of travel, starting and ending destination, rate per mile or any other predetermined rate.
When a County gas credit card is used, the employee is required to submit the gas receipt, the vehicle identification number and/or license plate number with a request for payment form to the Financial Services Department after it is approved and signed by the elected official and/or department director. A County gas credit card should only be used for County vehicles, not personal vehicles. If the employee misplaces a credit card gas receipt, an affidavit may replace the receipt; however, repeated use of affidavits (as determined by the Financial Services Department) may result in disapproval of credit card usage.
Elected officials, employees and nonemployees performing County-related business may be reimbursed for certain actual expenses in addition to per-diem rates.
Elected officials, employees and nonemployees may be reimbursed without receipts for the following expenses in an amount of $6 per day, not to exceed a total of $30 per trip:
Taxi or other transportation fares at the destination of the traveler.
Gratuities as allowed.
Actual costs for travel by common carrier, provided such travel is accomplished in the most economical and practical manner.
Rental cars or charter aircraft, provided less-expensive public transportation is not available or appropriate.
Registration fees for educational programs or conferences, provided that if the fee includes lodging or meals, then no per-diem rates shall be paid and only actual expenses paid by the elected official, employee or nonemployee and not included in the fee shall be reimbursed within the limits of NMAC 22.214.171.124.
Professional fees or dues that are beneficial to the agency's operations or mission.
Registration fees for meetings can only be reimbursed if there is a speaker or presenter. No other expense shall be reimbursed.
Under circumstances where the loss of receipts would deny reimbursement and create a hardship, an affidavit from the officer or employee attesting to the expenses may be substituted for an actual receipt. The affidavit for the lost receipt must accompany the travel voucher and include the signature of the department head or designee, and/or governing board with all relevant information on the affidavit such as reason for affidavit, location where the expenditure was made and description of purchased item. It is the responsibility of the person claiming the reimbursement to keep track of all receipts. An affidavit will be accepted for one lost receipt on any particular trip.
In addition to the above, restaurant and cab fare gratuities shall be limited to no more than 20% of the allowable food receipts and cab fares. Parking, baggage handling and other similar tips will be limited to no more than $2 per tip.
[Added 1-12-2010 by Res. No. 2010-06]
Per-diem, mileage and reimbursements will only be made to the point that is most economical for the taxpayers of Doña Ana County.
County vehicles should be used for work-related travel when applicable.
Persons attending the same functions should try to attend together to save mileage costs.
Persons driving must have a valid driver's license to travel on any County-approved functions.
Mileage reimbursement for personal vehicles will only be made when the travel distance is 30 miles or greater.
In order to qualify for overnight lodging per-diem rates, an employee must meet the following requirements:
All per-diem forms submitted for travel must have the County Manager's or designee's signature and must reference the Commission meeting approval date as may be required. In addition, supporting documentation, including itineraries, meeting agendas, etc., must be included with the request.
Elected officials, employees and nonemployees may purchase their own airline tickets or car rental using their own credit cards, or, may purchase airline tickets or car rental through the County's Purchasing Department. The County will only reimburse the elected official, employee or nonemployee the best obtainable rate as verified by the County even if the elected official, employee or nonemployee actually paid more.
Registration fees shall not be included on the travel authorization forms.
Business-related phone calls may be reimbursed. Proper documentation must be provided.
All receipts submitted for reimbursement must be original and contain the vendor or business name, date of purchase or delivery, description of item and/or service, and total cost. Sales tax is only paid for services rendered.
Any person who is not a County employee, appointed or elected official who is reimbursed in an amount that singly or in the aggregate exceeds $1,500 in any one year shall not be entitled to further reimbursement until such person furnishes in writing to the County Commission an itemized statement, on each separate instance of travel covered within such reimbursement, the place to which traveled and the purpose served by such travel as per NMSA § 10-8-5.
[Amended 9-27-2011 by Ord. No. 235-2011]
Every claim for reimbursement or travel advances of per-diem, mileage or other expenses authorized by provisions of this policy shall be submitted on the approved travel reimbursement forms, and all procedures for administration of this policy shall contain information as established and approved by the County Commission and County Manager, consistent with the approved policy and as required by New Mexico state laws, rules and regulations of the State Department of Finance and Administration (DFA Rules 95 and 2.42.2).
Any requests not completed on the required forms will not be processed.
Requests not completed with the required information will not be processed.
It is the responsibility of the department and individual who receives funds to ensure that all information provided in relation to a request for travel, per-diem or mileage is accurate.
Checks will only be released to the requesting individual.
Non-advance travel requests and reimbursements will be mailed if not picked up within 30 days. The recipient is responsible for providing a correct mailing address to the Financial Services Department.
If authorizing someone else to pick up a check, a signed affidavit with the name of the person being authorized to pick up the check must be attached, with the signature of the person authorizing the check to be picked up.
Advance per-diem travel requests not picked up within 30 days will be voided.
Per-diem travel requests and reimbursements must be submitted within 30 days of travel or the date the expense was incurred.
Temporary employees are not eligible for any County-paid travel.
Employees are not eligible for County-paid travel or training until after they pass six months of employment. All training or funding spent on any employee and accepted by an employee will be deducted from the employee's payroll should his/her employment terminate within one year of the training, with the following exceptions:
Sheriff's deputies sent for certification must be employed for a minimum of six months after the training/certification. The cost of travel and training will be deducted from the employee's payroll should his/her employment terminate within one year of the training.
Contract and/or grant employees' travel will be allowed in accordance with the contracts and/or grant requirements only.
Any employee who knowingly authorizes or who knowingly accepts payment in excess of the amount allowed by the Per Diem and Mileage Act or in excess of the amount authorized by this chapter and the governing board pursuant to NMSA § 10-8-5 is liable to the County in an amount that is twice the excess payment in addition to possible personnel action, up to and including termination from County employment, and legal action authorized by law.