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TEA Correspondence

A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.

September 9, 2009

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT:   Changes to Mileage Calculation and Travel Reimbursement (Lodging and Meals), Effective September 1, 2009, Applicable to State and Federal Grants from the Texas Education Agency

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has changed the travel reimbursement rates for lodging and meals, effective September 1, 2009. The reimbursement rate for mileage that went into effect on January 1, 2009, has not changed. The following mileage, lodging, and meal reimbursement rates apply to all grants funded by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for individuals on travel status.

Mileage
As was effective on January 1, 2009, the automobile mileage reimbursement rate (in-state and out-of-state) for personal automobiles is 55 cents per mile or local policy, whichever is less.

As of September 1, 2009, the Texas Mileage Guide will no longer be used to calculate mileage. Travelers will be required to calculate mileage by one of the following two methods:

  • Odometer reading (point-to-point method)
  • Electronic mapping source (such as that on www.Mapquest.com or any other online mapping service). If this method is chosen, the traveler must print out the driving directions provided by the site and attach them to the travel voucher.

Travelers are required to select the shortest and most economical route but may justify the selection of another route if it was chosen for safety reasons and specific justification of the selection is given.

Travel
The following maximum meal and lodging reimbursement rates apply to in-state and out-of-state travel. If local district policy has a lesser rate, the lesser rate must be used.

In-State Travel
Beginning September 1, 2009, the Federal Rate Schedule will be used for reimbursement of in-state meal and lodging expenditures. Because the reimbursement rates can change, it is recommended that travelers print the page at the time reservations are made and submit the printout with the travel reimbursement voucher as a supporting document.

Follow these steps to access meal and lodging reimbursement information and rates through the Texas State Comptroller’s web site, at http://window.state.tx.us:

    • Click the “Finances and Economy” tab at the top of the page.
    • Select “Get State of Texas Travel Information” from the menu on the left of the page.
    • Click the “Out-of-State Meal and Lodging” hyperlink.
    • On the U.S. map that opens, click Texas.
    • Disregard the note regarding CONUS at the top of the page; that is a federal standard that does not apply. Find your destination on the list, and apply the maximum meal and lodging rates for the city or area to which you are traveling.
    • If the Texas city to which you are traveling is not listed, check the county list. If the county to which you are traveling is listed, use the rate given for that county.
    • If the Texas county you are traveling to is not listed, use the standard maximum rate of $85 for lodging and $36 for meals.

In-State Day Trips
In accordance with local policy, an employee whose duties require the employee to travel outside the employee’s designated headquarters without an overnight stay away from the employee’s headquarters may be reimbursed for the actual cost of the employee’s meals, not to exceed $36. In the absence of a local policy, no reimbursement shall be made from the grant for this purpose.

“Headquarters” is defined as the area within the geographical boundaries of the school district or grantee organization. Travel must be more than six consecutive hours; the cost of meals for travel of less than six consecutive hours is not allowable to be charged to the grant.

Out-of-State Travel
An employee who travels within or outside the continental United States shall be reimbursed for the actual cost of lodging and meals. However, the reimbursements out of grant funds may not exceed the maximum meals and lodging rates based on the federal travel regulations and issued by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. (See instructions for locating online federal meal and lodging rates given in the “In-State Travel” section, preceding.) If local policy reimburses at a lesser amount, you must comply with local policy. If local policy reimburses at a greater amount, you must pay the difference from local or state funds (i.e., not from grant funds).

If the out-of-state city to which you are traveling is not listed on the Federal Rate Schedule, find the city on the list that is nearest geographically to your travel destination and apply the lodging and meal rates given for that city. When determining the nearest listed city, it is permissible to cross state lines. (For example, if travel takes you to northern New Mexico, the nearest listed city might be a city in Colorado rather than another location in New Mexico.)

Summary of Rates
The following table summarizes reimbursement rates for in-state and out-of-state travel.

In-State Meals and Lodging

Refer to the federal Domestic Maximum Per Diem Rates.
For cities not listed, apply the rate for the county in which the city is located.
If the county is not listed, the rates are as follows:
Lodging in-state: Up to $85/night
Meals in state: Up to $36/day

Out-of-State Meals and Lodging

Refer to the federal Domestic Maximum Per Diem Rates.
For areas not listed, use the rate for the nearest city. When locating the nearest city, it is permissible to cross state lines.

Hotel Taxes
School districts are usually exempt from Texas state sales tax on lodging but are not exempt from any city taxes or other taxes imposed for lodging.  Employees may be reimbursed for applicable taxes. 

Travel Allowances
Travel allowances for in-state and out-of-state travel, in which the traveler receives a flat per diem for lodging and/or meals, regardless of the actual amount expended, are not allowable in Texas. Grantees must adhere to the guidelines stated above in lieu of a travel allowance.

Travel Documentation
Travel costs must be properly documented to be reimbursable. The employee must document travel costs with a travel voucher or other comparable documentation. Documentation must include the following at a minimum:

    • Name of the individual claiming travel reimbursement
    • Destination and purpose of the trip, including how it was necessary to accomplish the objectives of the grant project
    • Dates of travel
    • Actual mileage (not to exceed reimbursement at the maximum allowable rate)
    • Actual amount expended on lodging per day, with a receipt attached (may not exceed the maximum allowable)
    • Actual amount expended on meals per day (may not exceed the maximum allowable; tips and gratuities are not reimbursable)
    • Actual amount expended on public transportation, such as taxis and shuttles
    • Actual amount expended on a rental car, with receipt attached and justification for why a rental car was necessary and how it was more cost effective than alternate transportation ; receipts for any gasoline purchased for the rental car must be attached (mileage is not reimbursed for a rental car – only the cost for gasoline is reimbursed)
    • Actual amount expended on incidentals, such as hotel taxes, copying of materials, and other costs associated with the travel
    • Total amount reimbursed to the employee 

If you have any questions about these travel reimbursement rates that apply to all TEA grants, please contact the Division of Discretionary Grants at DiscretionaryGrants@tea.state.tx.us .

Sincerely,

Earin M. Martin, Ed.D.
Chief Grants Administrator

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