By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A new policy has been enacted to help streamline procedures when reimbursing Canadian County personnel for travel expenses.
Canadian County government’s elected officials voted unanimously Jan. 17 to adopt the travel policy.
The document will become part of Canadian County’s personnel policy and employee handbook, according to Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson.
“Over the last several months, we have been meeting to discuss the need for a travel policy,” said Anderson, the District 2 commissioner. “We’ve never really had a clear travel policy defined in our employee handbook.”
Canadian County is moving to “per diem” reimbursement rates for county personnel who travel and stay overnight on official business.
“You have an allowance based on where you travel, and you’re allowed so much money per day to spend how you see fit,” Canadian County Assessor Matt Wehmuller explained.
“This should streamline the process … you don’t have to produce receipts. It’s just going to be tied to overnight travel. There’s a decreased allowance for the day of travel, to and from.”
Canadian County’s new travel policy is consistent with the travel reimbursement practices of state agencies and large counties, according to Wehmuller.
“Before, you would submit receipts for all your expenditures,” he said. “You had to produce those receipts. Unfortunately, in today’s world, you don’t always get receipts and it was always problematic.”
All eight Canadian County officers recently reviewed the proposed travel policy before agreeing to adopt the new rules.
“It’s up to each individual officer to determine whether the travel warrants an overnight stay,” Chairman Anderson said.
Canadian County Court Clerk employees now participate in more online training, according to Court Clerk Marie Hirst.
“So, we’re not traveling near what we used to,” Hirst said. “About half of the classes that we’ve done this year have been webinars. And they’ve been at the office.”
FILL OUT THE FORM
Any Canadian County government employee seeking per diem reimbursement for travel expenses must fill out the Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector’s travel claim form #1117.
“That form has places for them to show what expenses they had,” Anderson noted. “It doesn’t have to be itemized; you don’t have to have receipts.”
With this new policy, Anderson said Canadian County is “becoming more in line with the way the state handles their travel.”
First-year District 3 County Commissioner Tracey Rider believes having this travel reimbursement policy in place will help reduce stress.
“Not having a policy, the practice becomes the policy,” Rider said. “That’s all subjective. So, this is a great move to help streamline things.
“It will remove a lot of subjectivity, a lot of judgment, a lot of different eyes looking at justification as to whether or not (an employee) should be reimbursed.”