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Council passes travel policy

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Feb 8, 2024

Cape Coal City Council approved its travel policy Wednesday, allowing for up to $2,000 for round-trip airfare.

Director of Financial Services Mark Mason said the Florida statutes provide an opportunity for the city to adopt and approve its own travel policy, which was done through a resolution in 2004. He said the ordinance was amended in 2018.

Council voted on the resolution during Wednesday night’s meeting, as they had to readopt the policy pursuant to the Florida statute, as well as a 2021 audit that had several findings that needed amendments.

Mason said one section of the resolution was changed to provide policy that would cover City Council and all charter officers.

One resident spoke during the hearing, asking for a debate regarding a $2,000 ceiling for airfare cost per round-trip. The costs for two bags, and any costs “considered unavoidable” will be reimbursed, according to the ordinance.

Mason said it is common to have a ceiling in a policy, which is a living document that will stretch over a period of time.

“The cost of travel changes. It may end up being that much five years from now. It depends on the time of year you are traveling. Traveling during the holidays — the cost can be double of what it might be during the summer months. I have seen some round-trip fees that have come across that have approached $1,500,” he said.

Mason said the price can also differ depending on if reservations are made in advance or in a short time frame.

“Two thousand dollars is reasonable and yes, we did evaluate the prices,” he said.

According to the resolution, it was established for a clear understanding of “authorized business travel, approval authority to direct travel, expense reimbursement procedures, articles for which travelers may be reimbursed and an expectation of accurate and timely expense reimbursement in the performance of city travel.”

The ordinance also touched upon city vehicles, which “may not be authorized for travel outside the state of Florida.” Privately-owned vehicle travel “may be approved for local area travel, or outside the local area when deemed the most economical means of transportation.

Meal and incidental expense allowance is also included in the resolution for overnight travelers. The resolution states that the traveler “is eligible to receive per diem” for daily meals.

The resolution states that the traveler has five business days upon return to submit travel reimbursement.

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