The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Expense Reimbursements, Travel, Vehicle Use Policies

Reference Number: MTAS-968
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: May 11, 2016
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T.C.A. §§ 6-54-901 provides that municipalities are authorized to reimburse expenses related to the office of the mayor; members of the governing body, boards, commissions, or committees; and to any official or employee whose salary is set by charter or general law. To reimburse such expenses, a city must:

  • pass an ordinance authorizing a written expense reimbursement policy, which must be filed with the comptroller’s office unless the city adopts MTAS’s model policy. If the city adopts the MTAS model policy, it must notify the comptroller in writing that the policy was adopted and the date it was adopted;
  • require the chief administrative officer or his or her designee to prescribe expense forms, examine expense reports, and determine whether it is reimbursable; and
  • adopt a written vehicle use policy separate from the travel and expense policy.

Cities may pay travel expenses directly to the provider rather than to the official or employee. Municipalities and metropolitan governments with a population of greater than 100,000 are exempt from these provisions. T.C.A. §§ 6-54-907, et seq.

If officials or employees are overcompensated for an expenditure, the overage is considered salary T.C.A. § 6-54-902. Such a payment could exceed salary limitations set in the charter, and this could violate T.C.A. § 39-16-402(a)(5). Receiving any benefit not otherwise authorized by law is a Class E felony.

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