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TEA Correspondence

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

January 31, 2011

 TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:

SUBJECT:   Current Mileage and Travel Reimbursement Rates, Applicable to State and Federal Grants from the Texas Education Agency

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts has changed automobile mileage reimbursement rates. Effective January 1, 2011, the reimbursement rate is 51 cents a mile. (From January 1, 2010, to December 31, 2010, the mileage reimbursement rate was 50 cents a mile.) Rates for travel reimbursement (lodging and meals) have remained the same.

For ease of reference, this letter describes how to find reimbursement rates on the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website. The mileage, lodging, and meal reimbursement rates published by the comptroller apply to all grants funded by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for individuals on travel status.

For more detailed information regarding allowable travel expenses, consult the Texas State Comptroller’s website, at http://window.state.tx.us. Follow these steps to locate information on the comptroller’s site regarding specific aspects of travel reimbursement:

  • Click the “Finances & Economy” tab at the top of the home page.
  • Scroll down to the “Fiscal Management” section, and click “State of Texas Travel Information.”
  • In the “Resources” section, click the “Textravel” logo.
  • Click either the Meals and Lodging or the Transportation tab.
  • On the left of the page that opens is a blue menu listing subtopics of specific travel information (e.g., on the Transportation page, the subcategories listed in the blue menu include Mileage in Personal Vehicle, Parking, and Rental Vehicles). Click the appropriate subtopic.

Mileage
Effective January 1, 2011, the automobile mileage reimbursement rate (in-state and out-of-state) for personal automobiles is 51 cents per mile or local policy, whichever is less.

No change has been made to the following guidelines, restated here for ease of reference:

As of September 1, 2009, the Texas Mileage Guide is no longer used to calculate mileage. Travelers are 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.

To assist employees in documenting their travel, some districts have developed mileage charts listing the distance between various duty points within the district. Such a chart should be developed in accordance with local policy and must be based on one of the two approved methods of mileage calculation (odometer reading or electronic mapping source). Travelers whose districts have developed such a chart are not required to calculate their mileage by either the odometer reading or electronic mapping source method; reference to the district’s mileage chart is sufficient.

Travel
The following maximum meal and lodging reimbursement rates apply to in-state and out-of-state travel.

If local policy restricts travel, per diem, and other travel expenses to a rate less than State law, the applicant must budget and request reimbursement from the grant at the lesser rate. If local policy exceeds the maximum recovery rate specified in the Appropriations Bill, then the difference must be paid from state or local funds, i.e., not from grant funds. Travel allowances, in which the per diem is paid to the employee regardless of the amount actually expended, are not allowable.

In-State Travel
Effective September 1, 2009, the Federal Rate Schedule is 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 website at http://window.state.tx.us.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The comptroller’s site links to the federal General Services Administration (GSA) site, where reimbursement rates are listed, including the federal “standard rate.” The federal standard reimbursement rate is different from the current maximum reimbursement rate in Texas. Do not use the federal “standard rate.”
  • Click the “Finances & Economy” tab at the top of the home page.
  • Scroll down to the “Fiscal Management” section, and click “State of Texas Travel Information.”
  • In the “Resources” section, click “Travel Reimbursement Rates.”
  • At the top of the chart that opens, click “Domestic Maximum Per Diem Rates.’
  • On the page that opens, locate the traveler’s destination by clicking Texas on the U.S. map.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not locate the destination by entering the ZIP code. Entering the ZIP code for unlisted destinations will return the federal “standard rate,” which is different from the current maximum rate for Texas.

  • Clicking Texas brings up a list of Texas cities and counties. Find reimbursement rates as follows:

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 to which you are traveling is not listed, use the current maximum rate of $85 for lodging and $36 for meals, as specified in the General Appropriations Act and on the comptroller’s website.

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. Travel must begin at one duty point and end at another; regardless of the time of day of the travel, mileage to and from the employee’s home or location other than a duty point is not allowable to be charged to the grant. In the absence of a local policy, no reimbursement shall be made from the grant for this purpose.

“Designated headquarters” is defined as the area within the boundaries of the city or town in which a traveler’s place of employment is located. Travel must take the employee outside designated headquarters for more than six consecutive hours; the cost of meals for travel lasting 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 federal travel regulations that are 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 (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.) If the travel destination is equidistant from more than one other listed city, rates from the lowest listed city must be used.

For both in-state and out-of-state travel, the traveler may apply funds available for meal reimbursement (i.e., up to the rate specified in the Federal Rate Schedule or $36, depending on whether the destination is specified in the Federal Rate Schedule) toward  lodging. For instance, if the traveler chooses for the sake of convenience to stay in a hotel that costs $10 more a night than the allowable maximum for lodging, the traveler can apply $10 of the maximum available for meal reimbursement toward the lodging rate. If the traveler chooses to apply meal reimbursement to lodging, the maximum meal reimbursement rate is reduced by the same amount (applying $10 of the meal reimbursement to lodging would reduce the meal reimbursement by $10). NOTE: The opposite case does not apply; that is, a traveler may not reduce the amount spent on lodging and increase the amount spent on meals. Under no circumstances may a traveler be reimbursed from grant funds for meals at a rate that exceeds the rate given on the Federal Rate Schedule (or $36, depending on whether the destination is specified in the Federal Rate Schedule).

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. Auditable 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 a 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
  • Travel costs that are not supported by proper documentation as described above are not allowable to be charged to TEA grants and are subject to disallowance by state and federal auditors and monitors.

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, EdD
Chief Grants Administrator

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