On July 22, 2016, Governor Rauner signed the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act, which requires all local public agencies to regulate the reimbursement of all travel, meal, and lodging expenses of its officers and employees. The Act applies to all local public agencies, including: school districts, community college districts, or units of local government.
Regulation of Travel Expenses by Resolution or Ordinance
On or after June 30, 2017, a local public agency cannot approve or pay for travel, meal, or lodging expenses unless it first adopts a resolution or ordinance regarding the reimbursement of those expenses. The resolution or ordinance must regulate, at a minimum:
1) the types of official business for which travel, meal, and lodging expenses are allowed;
2) maximum allowable reimbursement for travel, meal, and lodging expenses; and
3) a standardized form for submission of travel, meal, and lodging expenses supported by minimum documentation.
The Act also provides that a resolution or ordinance may allow for the approval of expenses that exceed the established maximum allowable reimbursement because of emergency or extraordinary circumstances.
Documentation of Expenses
Before an individual's travel expenses may be approved, the following minimum documentation must be submitted:
1) an estimate of the cost of travel, meals, or lodging if expenses have not been incurred or a receipt of the cost of the travel, meals, or lodging if the expenses have already been incurred;
2) the name of the individual who received or is requesting the travel, meal, or lodging expense;
3) the job title or office of the individual who received or is requesting the travel, meal, or lodging expense; and
4) the date(s) and nature of the official business in which the travel, meal, or lodging expense was (or will be) expended.
All of the documents and information submitted are public records subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Approval of Expenses
On or after March 2, 2017, any travel, meals, and lodging expenses of
1) an officer or employee that exceed the maximum allowable reimbursement permitted under the agency's resolution or ordinance; or
2) any member of the governing board or corporate authorities of the local public agency
must be approved by roll call vote at an open meeting of the governing board of the local public agency. Thus, while an officer or an employee need only submit their expenses for approval by roll call vote if they exceed the maximum amount allowable under the resolution or ordinance, a member of the governing board or corporate authorities must always submit his/her expenses for approval by roll call vote at an open meeting of the governing board.
Reimbursement of Entertainment Expenses
The Local Government Travel Expense Control Act prohibits local public agencies from reimbursing governing board members, employees, or officers for any entertainment expense, unless the entertainment is ancillary to the purpose of the program or event. The Act defines "entertainment" broadly to include shows, amusements, theaters, circuses, sporting events, or any other place of public or private entertainment or amusement.