Elected Members Allowances & Recovery of Expenses Policy

(For the Electoral Tenure commencing 8 October 2016)1

Introduction

This policy sets out rules on the claiming of expenses by elected members and the resources that will be available to them during their term of office.

Contact person for queries: Tina Rogers – Group Manager Corporate Services, Email: tina.rogers@timdc.govt.nz, Phone: 03 687 7227

Authentication of Expense Reimbursements and Allowances

From time to time elected members incur expenses on the Council’s behalf, which need to be reimbursed.  This reimbursement and the use of council supplied resources apply only to elected members personally, and only while they are acting in their official capacity as elected members.

Costs for expenses must have a justifiable business purpose, be moderate and conservative having regard to the circumstances, and be appropriate in all respects.

The process for reimbursement of claims includes the following principles:

  • any expenses to be reimbursed must be on an actual and reasonable basis and in line with Council policy
  • expense claims are approved by the Chief Executive, and full original receipts are required
  • cost reimbursements will be made via the payroll system.

In the case of one-off expenditure such as travel to conferences, the process and prior approvals required are detailed in this policy.

In the case of vehicle mileage, travel time and communications, all limits set in this document do not exceed the Remuneration Authority’s Determination.

The Council’s internal audit work programme includes sampling expense claims and allowances paid to elected members and staff.

All expenditure that falls under this policy is approved on the condition that it can be met within relevant budget provisions.

Definitions

  • “Actual” means as evidenced by the original receipt attached to the claim form.
  • “Reasonable” means that it is within the amount specified by this policy or as deemed reasonable by the Mayor and/or Chief Executive.
  • “Council business” includes: formal council and community board meetings, committee meetings, workshops, seminars, statutory hearings, training courses, site visits, meetings with staff, meetings with community groups, meetings with members of the public. It does not include events where the primary focus is on social activity.
  • “Remuneration Authority” is an independent body established by the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, with responsibilities under the Local Government Act 2002 to determine remuneration and expense/allowance rules for local authority members.

Allowances and Expenses by Group of Members

PositionExpense/AllowanceDescription
All elected members Taxis

Taxis may be used for council business, instead of private vehicles or public transport, for the following reasons:

a) safety/security reasons, and

b) when travelling outside Timaru District if a taxi is the most appropriate form of transport.

Taxis may not be used if significant travel distances mean that use of a taxi is not the most cost effective option.  Rental cars booked by Chief Executive's staff should be considered as an option in such circumstances.

Taxi charge vouchers should be used for planned travel within New Zealand.  Costs paid for directly by the individual for unanticipated travel within in New Zealand or for international travel will be reimbursed on presentation of actual receipts.

Travel and attendance at conferences/ seminars/training programmes

All elected members are entitled to payment of actual and reasonable registration, travel, accommodation, meal and related incidental expenses (including travel insurance) incurred in attendance at these events, held both within New Zealand and overseas, subject to:

a) related expenditure being accommodated within existing budgets, and

b) the appropriate approvals as outlined in this policy

and excluding reimbursement for purchases from hotel mini-bars and charges for in-room video or cable movies.

All travel and accommodation arrangements for elected members are to be made by Chief Executive’s staff with the Council’s preferred travel agents, at the most economic cost available (when possible) at the time of booking, unless all travel costs are being met privately or by an outside party.

Exceptional circumstances for council related meetings

Staff may arrange overnight accommodation when travel or business requirements do not allow for the return on the same day, e.g. if it is unreasonable for an elected member to travel to their home after a late meeting.

Domestic air travel

All elected members are entitled to utilise domestic air travel for council related travel, generally where travel by air is the most cost effective travel option.

International air travel

As a general policy all elected member international air travel is by way of economy class, where all or part of the costs of the fares are to be met by the Council. The approval of the Council is required for exceptions, e.g. where Premium Economy or the equivalent air travel is desirable for health or other compelling reasons.

Air points

No airpoints accumulated while on council business can be utilised for personal use.

Private accommodation provided by friends/relatives

Payment of $50 per night when staying in private accommodation, to cover accommodation, breakfast and dinner.  It is intended that at least a portion of this allowance is paid to the accommodation provider.

Car parking

Use of an assigned car park in Civic Offices for use on council business.

Mayor Car

The Mayor will be provided with a vehicle that will also be available for his/her private use.  A deduction will be made from his/her salary as determined by the Remuneration Authority. The Mayor will not be able to claim for vehicle mileage.

Travel and conferences, courses and seminars

The prior approval of the Chief Executive is required for travel within New Zealand for: council business; attendance at conferences/courses/training events/ seminars; other purposes associated with the position of mayor.

The prior approval of the Council is required for all international travel, where costs or partial costs are paid for by council funds.

Telephone costs

Full payment by the council of:

a) home telephone line rental and associated toll charges, and

b) cellphone based rental and all associated call charges.

Airline club

Given frequent travel requirements for the role, payment of an Air New Zealand Koru Club subscription.

Entertainment and hospitality

The Mayor holds a purchasing card to pay directly for any entertainment or hospitality expenses incurred while carrying out council business.  Full receipts and details of the names of parties entertained and reasons for the entertainment are to be provided.

All expenditure on this card is approved by the Chief Executive.

Mayor, Councillors

Car parking

Use of an assigned carpark in Civic Offices for use on council business.

Rental Cars

Rental cars may be utilised when attending meetings or conferences in other centres, where this is the most cost-effective travel option.

Mayor, Councillors and Community Board Chairs

Communications equipment

a) provision of a tablet. Full technical support is provided for council business, and

b) provision of an annual allowance for any or all equipment provided by the elected member, as follows:

  • $150 for a PC
  • $40 for a printer
  • $60 for a telephone (mobile or handset).
Stationery and consumables Supply of reasonable amounts of paper and printer consumables for council business

Councillors

Conferences, courses, seminars and training

The conference, course, seminar or training event must contribute to the Councillor’s ability to carry out council business.

Attendance at these events when held in New Zealand must be approved by both the Mayor (or the Deputy Mayor) and the Chief Executive.

Attendance at these events when held overseas must be approved by the Council.

Entertainment and hospitality

Reimbursement of costs incurred while hosting official visitors to the council, or while travelling on council business.  These costs can cover a range of items including, but not limited to, tea/coffee, and catering. Alcohol costs are not met by the Council.

Councillors, Community Board Chairs

General community related expenses

From time to time councillors and board chairs may have unforseen costs arise for items relating to community events, e.g. payment of koha, or purchasing a wreath for attendance at a commemorative event.  Reimbursement of such expenditure should be previously approved by the Chief Executive. The items should be appropriate to the occasion and expenditure should be moderate and conservative.

Councillors, Community Board members

Vehicle mileage

Vehicle mileage will be paid for all travel on council business that exceeds, in any one day, the relevant threshold distance.

The threshold distance will be personal to each elected member.  It will depend on the distance of a round commuting trip from the elected member’s home to their nearest council office:

a) members living more than 15 kilometres away from their   nearest office may claim the allowance for round trip distances travelled more than 30 kilometres in any one day

b) members living less than 15 kilometres away from their nearest office may claim mileage for round trip distances travelled more than their round trip from home to their nearest council office, in any one day.

Mileage will be paid up to the maximum rate per kilometre as set out in the current Remuneration Authority Determination.

Mileage will be paid to eligible members on receipt of a completed and signed mileage claim, and approved by the Council Secretary.

Mobile phone expenses

An allowance towards council generated calls, text and data through mobile phones:

a) $400 for councillors and community board chairs

b) $300 for community board members.

Landline and broadband connection

An allowance towards landline and broadband connection of $250.

Community Board members

Travel time

Reimbursement at $35 per hour for travel time (including travel to and from the member’s residence) for travel undertaken on any one day to attend a Council or Community Board related meeting or event with a minimum threshold of one hour of time travelled.  Only time in excess of this threshold will qualify for payment and only if the travel is by the quickest form of transport reasonable in the circumstances.

Conferences/training/ seminars

Attendance at conferences, courses, seminars and training programmes requires the prior approval of the relevant community board.  Exceptions to approval of the community board being required are:

a) when a board member is to be the Council’s representative  at a conference or event; in such cases the approval of the Council is required, and

b) for RMA hearings training, as there is a separate budget for such training which is managed by staff.

1 The exact date from when this policy will apply is the day that elected members come into office after the 8 October 2016 local body elections.


Approved by the Remuneration Authority 13 July 2016