Based on a tip from the county fraud website and multiple reports from citizens of Northampton County, I was called upon to review mileage and expense reimbursements for the Northampton County Executive as well as the Assistant Director of Administration.
Upon review of mileage reimbursement submitted by Catherine Allen and John Brown it has been determined that certain items violated county policy and should be reimbursed to the county. The following, details outline this and the amounts to be reimbursed.
IRS Publication 463 and Northampton County Policy for Travel, Meals and Mileage Reimbursement (Implemented 6/1/2007 rev. 1/22/2008).
Under normal and customary circumstances the IRS does not allow for distance from or to home and a normal work site. This is commonly called a daily commute. Northampton County Policy states the following:
Commuting mileage between an employee’s residence and his/her normal worksite is not reimbursable. If an employee is required to commute from and to the employee’s residence and a worksite within the County other than his/her normal worksite, that mileage is reimbursable to the extent that the distance from the residence to the temporary worksite exceeds the distance from residence to the normal worksite. Department Heads must maintain records of normal commuting mileage in order to verify this difference.This policy also discusses reimbursement for meals and states:
When traveling on County business on a “day trip” (no overnight stay) over fifty (50) miles from the employee’s regular work site or home, expenses incurred for lunch will be reimbursed pursuant to the schedule set forth below. Such reimbursement, however, is contingent upon the employee providing appropriate receipts and timely submitting the appropriate reimbursement forms. Meal expenses incurred in conjunction with “day trips” within fifty (50) miles of the employee’s regular work site or home are not reimbursable.There is also a policy that limits the amount to be paid for meals. They are as follows:
Breakfast $ 7.00These policies apply to all county employees unless there is language in a collective bargaining agreement that provides for alternative arrangements.
Lunch $ 9.00
Daily total $36.00
Both the County Executive (Mr. Brown) and The Assistant Director of Administration (Ms. Allen) are county employees and not part of a collective bargaining unit. Therefore, this policy applies to them.
Catherine Allen’s Excessive Reimbursements
Based on the attached documentation Ms. Allen did in fact charge mileage to or from her home on 78 separate occasions. There was also other mileage to locations that were not her “normal worksite.” Giving Ms. Allen the benefit of several worksites as she appears to be at Gracedale as much if not more than her office at the courthouse it becomes clear from the documentation that she over billed the county for 1,699.9 miles at $.56 per mile. This is a total of $951.94.
Ms. Allen also provided receipts to two local eateries for lunches. The total for these meals was $54.91. These meals were not farther than 50 miles from “her regular worksite or home” and are therefore not reimbursable. They also exceed the daily limit.
Ms. Allen based on the documentation and county policy needs to reimburse the county of Northampton $1,006.85.
John Brown’s Excessive Reimbursements
Based on the attached documentation [I have not attached it] Mr. Brown had several mileage reimbursement requests that were to and from home. He also had several that seem less about county business and more about the political aspects of his job. The county reimbursement policy does not cover these expenses and was not intended to do so.
Mr. Brown did not provide locations for several meetings. However, giving him the benefit of the doubt in most situations I found 944 miles at $.56 per mile that were over billed to the county. This is a total of $528.64.
All meals and lodging were for conferences that were in line with county policies.
Expectation for Reimbursement
Under the county policy:
The employee shall reimburse any overpayments within five (5) days of discovery.If this expectation is not met I will pursue all civil and criminal action available to obtain this money in conjunction with county policy. This includes a copy of this memo going to the District Attorney or being used as an attachment in a surcharge action (whichever is most appropriate).
I will suspend any action if a meeting is set up within 5 days to discuss these documents and any objections you may have to the specific mileage calculations.
If money is not repaid within 5 business days from the date of this memo (December 9, 2014) or a meeting set up before that time I will immediately take action to recover the monies outlined above.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.