The Diocese of the South
Orthodox Church in America

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Diocese of the South Expense Guidelines

Please see below in regards to the Diocese of the South's policy on reimbursement for travel expenses incurred for Diocesan business.

 

ORTHODOX CHURCH OF AMERICA

DIOCESE OF THE SOUTH

EXPENSE GUIDELINES

 

Purpose

The Diocesan Council of the DOS recognizes that council members, clergy, and lay representatives of DOS may be required to travel or incur other expenses from time to time to conduct business on behalf of the diocese. T he purpose of this Policy is to ensure that (a) adequate cost guidelines are in place, (b) travel and other expenditures are appropriate, and (c) to provide a uniform and consistent approach for the timely reimbursement of authorized expenses, and d) to insure that appropriate documentation is available for review by the audit committee.  It is appropriate that the diocese reimburse only reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred by individuals conducting business on behalf of the diocese.

When incurring organizational expenses, best practices would indicate that individuals presenting expenses for reimbursement will:

  • Exercise discretion and good judgment with respect to those expenses.

  • Be cost conscious and spend money as carefully and judiciously as the individual would spend his or her own funds.

  • Report expenses, supported by required documentation, as they were actually spent.

  • Keep in mind the other Diocesan endeavors (i.e. mission planting) that could be done with the funds when making the decision to incur expenses.

  • Those planning assemblies and other such events should do so with the awareness of the total expense incurred within the Diocese of the South. Cost shifting between the parishes and the Diocese is not true savings when the mission of the church is considered.

  • Items like parking, Wi-Fi charges, luggage fees can make what appears to be an economical rate more expensive than a higher rate that is more inclusive.

 

Expense Report

Expenses will not be reimbursed unless the individual requesting reimbursement submits a written Expense Report. The Expense Report shall be submitted no later than 4 weeks after incurring the expense.  Reimbursement requests submitted after 4 weeks of the expense will not be valid.

Expense reimbursement request must include:

  • The individual’s name, phone and address where the reimbursement will be directed.

  • If reimbursement is for travel, the date, origin, destination and purpose of the trip, including a description of each related activity during the trip.

  • The name and affiliation/role of all people for whom expenses are claimed (i.e., people on whom money is spent such as meals) in order to conduct DOS business.

  • An itemized list of all expenses for which reimbursement is requested.

 

Receipts

Original receipts are required for all expenditures billed directly to the DOS, such as airfare and hotel charges. No expense will be reimbursed unless the individual requesting reimbursement submits with the Expense Report written receipts from each vendor showing the vendor’s name, a description of the services provided (if not otherwise obvious), the date, and the total expenses, including tips (if applicable). A credit card receipt or statement may be used to document the vendor and date of an expense, provided other required details of the expenditure are fully documented.

Credit Cards

The documentation described is necessary for both reimbursement for individual outlay, as well as expenses placed on a corporate (“church”) card.

General Travel Requirements

Necessity of Travel. In determining the reasonableness and necessity of travel expenses, The person authorizing the 

travel shall consider the ways in which the DOS will benefit from the travel and weigh those benefits against the 

anticipated costs of the travel. Should the benefits to the DOS not clearly outweigh the costs, less expensive 

alternatives, such as participation by telephone or video conferencing, or the availability of local programs or training opportunities, shall be considered.

Personal and Spousal Travel Expenses. With advance approval from the bishop, chancellor, or treasurer, individuals traveling on behalf of the DOS may incorporate personal travel or business with their related trips; however, individuals shall not arrange travel at a time that is less advantageous to the diocese or involve greater expenses to the diocese in order to accommodate personal travel plans. Any additional expenses incurred as a result of personal travel, including but not limited to extra hotel nights, additional stopovers, meals or transportation, are the sole responsibility of the individual and will not be reimbursed by the DOS. Expenses associated with travel of an individual’s spouse, family or friends will not be reimbursed by the diocese without prior approval from the bishop, chancellor, or treasurer.

Air Travel

General. Air travel reservations should be made as far in advance as possible in order to take advantage of reduced fares.

Frequent Flyer Miles and Compensation for Denied Boarding. Personnel traveling on behalf of the DOS may accept and retain frequent flyer miles as well as compensation for denied boarding for their personal use. Individuals may not deliberately patronize a single airline to accumulate frequent flyer miles if less expensive comparable tickets are available on another airline.

 

Lodging

Personnel traveling on behalf of the DOS may be reimbursed at the single room rate for the reasonable cost of hotel accommodations. Convenience, the cost of staying in the city in which the hotel is located, and proximity to other venues on the individual’s itinerary shall be considered in determining reasonableness. DOS representatives shall make use of available discount rates for hotels where they are available.  Benchmarks for reasonable rates may be found by referring to http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120.

Out-Of-Town Meals

Personnel traveling on behalf of DOS are reimbursed on a per meal basis at the following rates when they actually incur the cost of a meal. They will not be reimbursed for meals paid for or provided by others. Please note below a general guideline for cost of meals.

Breakfast: $ 7.50
Lunch: $ 12.50
Dinner: $ 25.50

Exceptions to the above limits may be made where available meal options require higher expenditures. Exceptions will require a receipt.

Ground Transportation

Employees are expected to use the most economical ground transportation appropriate under the circumstances and should generally use the following, in this order of desirability:

Volunteers from Host Parish.  For assemblies, clergy conferences, workshops and other such gatherings, if possible, the host church might recruit volunteers for pick up and drop offs where there is not significant travel during the course of the conference.

Courtesy Cars. Many hotels have courtesy cars, which will take you to and from the airport at no charge. Individuals should take advantage of this free service whenever possible. Another alternative may be a shuttle or bus.

Taxis. When courtesy cars and airport shuttles are not available, a taxi is often the next most economical and convenient form of transportation when the trip is for a limited time and minimal mileage is involved.

Rental Cars. Car rentals are expensive so other forms of transportation should be considered when practical. Employees will be allowed to rent a car while out of town provided that the cost is less than alternative methods of transportation.  Wherever possible, those renting cars should be car-pooling between church and hotels/airports, etc.

 

Personal Cars. Personnel are compensated for use of their personal cars when used for DOS business. When individuals use their personal car for such travel, including travel to and from the airport, mileage will be allowed at the currently approved IRS rate per mile.

In the case of individuals using their personal cars to take a trip that would normally be made by air, mileage will be allowed at the currently approved rate; however, the total mileage reimbursement will not exceed the sum of the lowest available round trip coach airfare(s) for those traveling by car.

Parking/Tolls

Parking and toll expenses, including charges for hotel parking, incurred by DOS personnel traveling on business will be reimbursed. The costs of parking tickets, fines, car washes, valet service, etc., are the responsibility of the individual and will not be reimbursed.  On-airport parking is permitted for short business trips. For extended trips, Personnel should use off airport facilities, or arrange for shuttles when the shuttle expense is less than the parking fees.

Entertainment and Business Meetings

Reasonable expenses incurred for business meetings or other types of business-related entertainment will be reimbursed only if the expenditures are approved in advance by the bishop, chancellor, or treasurer. Detailed documentation for any such expense must be provided, including:

  • Date and place of entertainment

  • Nature of expense

  • Name, titles, and affiliation of those entertained

  • A complete description of the church purpose for the activity including the specific business matter discussed

  • Vendor receipts (not credit card receipts or statements) showing the vendor’s name, a description of the services provided, the date, and the total expenses, including tips (if applicable).

 

Other Expenses  

                                         

In addition, reasonable and necessary gratuities that are not covered under meals may be reimbursed.

 

Non-reimbursable Expenditures

The Diocese of the South maintains a strict policy that expenses in any category that could be perceived as lavish or excessive will not be reimbursed. See some examples below but are not limited to:

  • Travel insurance

  • First class tickets or upgrades

  • When lodging accommodations have been arranged by the DOS and the individual elects to stay elsewhere, reimbursement is made at the amount no higher than the rate negotiated by the DOS. Reimbursement shall not be made for transportation between the alternate lodging and the meeting site, unless the alternative site creates sufficient savings to cover the transportation costs.

  • Limousine travel

  • Movies, liquor, or bar costs

  • Spa or exercise charges

  • Clothing purchases

  • Valet service

  • Car washes

  • Toiletry articles

  • Expenses for spouses, friends, or relatives. If a spouse, friend or relative accompanies an individual on a trip, it is the responsibility of the individual to determine any added cost for double occupancy and related expenses and to make the appropriate adjustment in the reimbursement request. This policy does not apply to those events where it is customary that clergy families accompany their spouse/father. 

 

Approved by the Diocesan Council at the February 2014 Meeting.