Treasurer proposes travel, expense reimbursement policy
Town Treasurer Anthony Musto would like to see more internal control on the expense accounts of town employees and shared a draft of his reimbursement policy with The Times earlier this week.
"If I'm going to make repayments, I want to see what I'm approving," he explained Monday.
"I asked the town attorney and he said we should have a reimbursement policy in place and that's why I've been writing and researching to create one and asking for feedback on what I'm proposing," added Musto, who sent his original thoughts to the Board of Education and Board of Finance. "But so far, instead of receiving cooperation, I'm getting stonewalled."
The treasurer, a Democrat, told The Times that he was "vilified" almost immediately after sending out the policy draft to the town boards, which are predominantly made up of Republicans.
Leading the charge behind the resistance is First Selectman Tim Herbst, according to Musto
"Instead of waiting to find out what mistake were made at last night Board of Finance meeting, he's been sending stuff to the media because of what I'm trying to do with this policy; and he won't talk to me about it all," he said. "He's talking behind my back but why doesn't he walk down the hall to my office? I'd be happy to have a conversation with him and explain what I'm doing."
Hersbt said that Musto is infrequently in his office, citing a piece of inter-office correspondence dated April 7 that remains — unopened — outside of the treasurer's office in Town Hall.
"If we're going to run government like a business, then we need a policy of reimbursement," the treasurer said Monday.
He added that Herbst was a proponent of internal control on the expense accounts of town employees when he first ran for the Office of First Selectman in 2009.
"We should be working together on this but instead of collaborating, I'm getting push back at every turn," Musto said.
"I've worked in the private and the public sector," he explained. "Submitting itemized receipts to get reimbursement is not a novel concept."
He said towns such as Fairfield, Darien, and Bridgeport impose that expense accounts be reimbursed through itemized receipts.
He added that Superintendent of Schools Gary Cialfi submitted his receipts with itemization and there wasn't any problem.
"There's a bunch of stuff in there that I didn't question that's in his personal expense account," Musto explained. "I'm willing to work with him on this but before I even had a chance to look into it, he sends this letter to the paper. Why he thought that was appropriate I don't understand."
The town treasurer said that the exchange has prevented him from doing his job.
"Everyone should know what the policy is — what the rules are — and it should be bipartisan and that's what I said in my very first email with the town attorney," he said. "But he's saying I'm making it political."
In its opening statement, the policy "recognizes that management and other personnel may be required to travel or incur other expenses from time to time to conduct Town business and to further the mission of this organization."
The rest of the document has been copied below for readers of The Trumbull Times to review and comment on.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that (a) adequate cost controls are in place, (b) travel and other expenditures are appropriate, and (c) to provide a uniform and consistent approach for the timely reimbursement of authorized expenses incurred by personnel. It is Trumbull policy to reimburse only reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred by Personnel.
When incurring business expenses, Trumbull expects Personnel to:
- Exercise discretion and good business judgment with respect to those expenses.
- Be cost conscious and spend town money as carefully and judiciously as the individual would spend his or her own funds.
- Report expenses, supported by required documentation, as they were actually spent.
Personnel shall not incur any expenses on any town account without prior approval. All personal expenses for travel, meals, entertainment and events shall be charged to the individual accounts of Personnel and reimbursed upon the submission of an expense report. Expenses will not be reimbursed unless the individual requesting reimbursement submits a written Expense Report. The Expense Report, which shall be submitted at least monthly or within four weeks of the completion of travel if travel expense reimbursement is requested, must include:
- The individual’s name.
- If reimbursement for travel is requested, the date, origin, destination and purpose of the trip, including a description of each Company-related activity during the trip.
- The name and affiliation of all people for whom expenses are claimed (i.e., people on whom money is spent in order to conduct town business).
- An itemized list of all expenses for which reimbursement is requested.
Receipts are required for all expenditures. No expense in excess of $10.00 will be reimbursed to Personnel unless the individual requesting reimbursement submits with the Expense Report written receipts from each vendor (not a credit card receipt or statement) showing the vendor’s name, a description of the services provided (if not otherwise obvious), the date, and the total expenses, including tips (if applicable), and business purpose of the expense (if not otherwise obvious). Expenses under $10 will be reimbursed without itemized receipts where Personnel submit a statement with the above information with the Expense Report.
General travel requirements
In determining the reasonableness and necessity of travel expenses, Personnel and the person authorizing the travel shall consider the ways in which will benefit from the travel and weigh those benefits against the anticipated costs of the travel. The same considerations shall be taken into account in deciding whether a particular individual’s presence on a trip is necessary. In determining whether the benefits to Trumbull outweigh the costs, less expensive alternatives, such as participation by telephone or video conferencing, or the availability of local programs or training opportunities, shall be considered.
Personal and spousal travel expenses.
Individuals traveling on behalf of Trumbull may incorporate personal travel or business with their company-related trips; however, personnel shall not arrange company travel at a time that is less advantageous to Trumbull or involving greater expense to Trumbull in order to accommodate personal travel plans. Any additional expenses incurred as a result of personal travel, including but not limited to extra hotel nights, additional stopovers, meals or transportation, are the sole responsibility of the individual and will not be reimbursed by Trumbull. Expenses associated with travel of an individual’s spouse, family or friends will not be reimbursed by Trumbull.
Entertainment and business Meetings
Reasonable expenses incurred for business meetings or other types of business-related entertainment will be reimbursed only if the expenditures qualify as tax deductible expenses.
Detailed documentation for any such expense must be provided, including:
- date and place of entertainment.
- nature of expense.
- names, titles and corporate affiliation of those entertained.
- a complete description of the business purpose for the activity including the specific business matter discussed.
- vendor receipts (not credit card receipts or statements) showing the vendor’s name, a description of the services provided, the date, and the total expenses, including tips (if applicable).
Personnel are compensated for use of their personal cars when used for company business. When individuals use their personal car for such travel, including travel to and from the airport, mileage will be allowed at the currently approved IRS rate per mile.
In the case of individuals using their personal cars to take a trip that would normally be made by air, mileage will be allowed at the currently approved rate; however, the total mileage reimbursement will not exceed the sum of the lowest available.