The Travel Expenses Policy outlines the rules and procedures for reimbursement of expenses earned for travel on City official business.
The City of Moose Jaw plans to update its 31-year-old travel expense policy so that the City Hall can better understand and manage the document when dealing with travel expenses for staff and councils.
At its regular meeting on September 26, the City Council unanimously voted to approve the revised Travel Expenses Policy, which was last updated in 1991 and requires some changes to reflect current travel expenses and methods.
“Now is the time for us to revise this document,” said Mayor Clive Tolley with a smile.
county. Heather Eby agreed, saying: “I’m happy to see that the next review (of the policy) is October 2025 instead of October 2056. I’m sure things will change by then.”
A council report explained that HR submitted the motion after conducting a regular review of all of its policies and finding that the policy needed several changes. The Travel Expenses Policy outlines the rules and procedures for reimbursement of expenses earned for travel on City official business.
The report goes on to say that the amendments fall into three categories: codification, addressing identified gaps, and simplification.
Housekeeping amendments include correcting references to bylaws and operating guidelines; removing references to city private use policies that are no longer in use; updating amounts paid for private accommodations; and updating terminology, such as changing city commissioner to city manager.
HR found several loopholes in existing policies, including:
- Given the outdated nature of the policy, virtual meeting options were not considered
- Current policy has deadlines for submitting fees, but there is no way for council to enforce deadlines to ensure timeliness
- No maximum parking fee has been established
- Need to be clear about getting virtual insurance for rental cars and liability for any damage
The policy has several existing detailed sections covering topics such as excessive travel times, excursion fees, double occupancy and incentive schemes, the report said. However, these are not required and are “very complex” for HR to understand and apply.
The report goes on to say that HR recommends replacing these sections with an overarching direction, such as outlining when travel is required, or that the city will only pay for expenses directly related to municipal operations. Within these guidelines, managers and directors will be responsible for approving and verifying costs.
Additionally, department heads must obtain approval from the city manager to pay the cost of each claim in U.S. dollars when traveling to the United States. Adding this provision to policies is expected to reduce the time and effort required to process these claims.
Reimbursement in U.S. dollars is in line with provincial practices.
The report added that the actual reimbursement amount for any travel is governed by the City Hall’s operational guidelines for out-of-town travel compensation. The City Council updates this document annually based on rates set by the provincial government.
The next regular meeting is on Tuesday, October 11th.