Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 30, 2014

RUSS board discusses policies

By Trisha Phelps | May 16, 2014

MT. PLEASANT — The hot-button item on the Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS) agenda during yesterday’s meeting was the travel and meal reimbursement policy.
Several RUSS board members disagreed with a few minor details of the policy, and in keeping with the already brief meeting, after a quick discussion, the policy was amended to reflect the RUSS board’s wishes.
One of the questions that arose about the policy was from Lee Dimmitt, supervisor from Jefferson County, about the hotel accommodations listed in the policy.
The policy states that RUSS will not pay more than $100 plus tax per night for hotel rooms in the State of Iowa, but a hotel room outside of Iowa should be as close to $120 plus tax per night as possible.
“The only question I had, really, was there some reason that we will not pay more than $100 (for a hotel room) in Iowa, but if you are going to have to travel outside of the state you can live it up at $120 (for a hotel room)?” asked Dimmitt.
The reasoning for the additional dollar amount, according to Van Buren County Supervisor Bob Waugh, is because of the high likelihood of not being able to find a cheaper room out of state.
“If you are going outside of Iowa, you are probably going to a meeting in a major metropolitan area and you simply aren’t going to be able to find a $100 room,” said Waugh.
The concern about the policy that required amending was regarding to travel pay.  
Before changes were made, the proposed policy stated that when traveling for one day each employee traveling will be paid for the workday and time traveled. However, if traveling for more than one day the person driving the car will receive travel time as part of their entire work time and those traveling in the same car will not accrue travel time. After the change to the policy, all employees needing to travel more than one day will get paid for travel time regardless of who is driving.
“The person driving the car gets paid for all of his travel time that he is up and about (if they are traveling for more than one day), but the second guy doesn’t get paid for the travel time to and from for business?” questioned Washington County Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. “Now, he wouldn’t be up and about in that car unless it was for business, so why are we not paying him, but we are paying that other guy?”
Lee County Supervisor Ernie Schiller advised that perhaps after setting this policy, the board could approve waiving the policy on a case-by-case basis.
“The policy is just a guide, and we could change it anytime we want,” said Schiller. “The director could advise us if he knows something like this is about to happen coming up, and we could just override this policy as a one-time deal.”
“Or we could just get rid of it now,” said RUSS Executive Director Bruce Hudson. “All policies are a guide, that is why they are in place. They are a guide for us to follow.”
The board also:
approved the treasurer’s report;
heard the executive director’s report;
discussed terminating fiscal agent services for RUSS from Keokuk County but took no action;
The next RUSS meeting will be June 11 at 1 p.m. in the Henry County Emergency Management Building.

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