Legislative Update: Local Government Travel Expense Control Act (P.A. 99-604)

Effective January 1, 2017, many public agencies (defined as school districts, community college districts, and units of local government other than home-rule units) will be required to formally adopt policies regulating the reimbursement of travel, meal, and lodging expenses. Such policies must be approved by ordinance or resolution and must, at a minimum, address the following: (1) the types of official business for which travel, meal, and lodging reimbursements will be allowed; (2) establish maximum allowable reimbursements; and (3) provide a standardized form for the submission of such reimbursements. Any expense incurred above the maximum allowable amount or incurred by a member of the governing board must be approved by roll call vote at an open meeting of the public body.

The Act also provides requirements for the contents of the public agency’s standardized reimbursement forms. Specifically, all forms containing a request for reimbursement under the policy must be submitted in writing and must include: (1) an estimate of the cost of travel, meals, or lodging (if the expenses have not yet been incurred) or receipts documenting the cost of travel, meals, or lodging (if the expenses have already been incurred); (2) the name of the individual who is requesting the expense reimbursement; (3) the job title/office of the individual who is requesting the travel reimbursement; and (4) the date(s) and nature of the official business for which the reimbursement is being requested.  The Act also explicitly provides that any forms submitted pursuant to the act are public records subject to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

In addition to the above-cited requirements, the Act also requires that public agencies refrain from reimbursing “entertainment expenses” including those for shows, amusements, theaters, circuses, sporting events, or other public or private entertainment, unless such expense is ancillary to the purpose of the reimbursable program or event.

If you would like further information about this Act, and how it may affect you as a public body, please contact Peter K. Wilson, Jr, Jessica L. Briney, or Laura M. Julien, of Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi, Lenert, & Julien, P.C., 2111 Plum Street, Suite 201, Aurora, Illinois 60506. Telephone Number: 630-801-9699, or by E-mail at: pkw@mickeywilson.comjlb@mickeywilson.com; and lmj@mickeywilson.com

By:  Laura M. Julien