The approval to attend a conference, workshop, or meeting that is not considered a normal job responsibility, or that is not sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation including Judicial Branch Education, shall be obtained from the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator or Judicial Branch Education Director prior to the individual’s attendance at such function. If funding is being requested for an education event that is not sponsored by Judicial Branch Education, prior approval shall be requested by using the forms prescribed by the Judicial Branch Education Director. The forms are available at: http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/jbe/pdf/jbe-request-commitment-of-funds.pdf.
Only conference/meeting expenses incurred on the days necessary to travel to and from the conference/meeting and those incurred on the actual days of the conference/meeting may be reimbursed. Prior approval from the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director must be obtained for reimbursement of expenses that result from arriving early or result from extending departure. The following includes additional specific limitations in expense reimbursements.
Only actual amounts paid for meals may be claimed. The Internal Revenue Service requires employees to substantiate the cost of meals under an accountable plan. The Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation requires all officers and employees to keep itemized receipts (not credit card receipts) for meal expenses. Transfer the receipt information to the expense voucher and attach the receipts to the expense voucher to satisfy the IRS requirement for an accountable plan. Unsubstantiated meal expenses will not be reimbursed. Again, the amounts claimed should be actual meal costs. Tips are a reimbursable expense. No reimbursement may be made for alcoholic beverages.
There are time limitations on reimbursements for meals. The time limitations do not include the time taken for the meal. If departure is before 6:30 a.m. or 1½ hours before the officer or employee begins work, whichever is earlier, breakfast may be reimbursed. Noon meals may be reimbursed if departure is at or before 11 a.m. (for overnight travel) or the return time is at or after 2 p.m. (from overnight travel). Noon meals for 1-day travel are not reimbursable. If the return time is after 7 p.m. or 2 hours after the officer’s or employee’s workday ends, whichever is later, the evening meal may be reimbursed. Meal expenses incurred in the city or town in which the residence or primary work location of such employee or officer is located are not reimbursable. Reimbursement for meal expenses incurred on 1-day travel is taxable income to the officer or employee if the expenses are $200 or more in any one year--December 1 through November 30. The total amount is taxable income.
Reimbursements for meals will not exceed the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) limit on meals. Meal allowances include tips. For travel in the State of Nebraska all cities but Omaha have a maximum allowed of $36, however the reimbursement rate is computed on a per meal basis: breakfast, $7; lunch, $11; and dinner, $18. Omaha’s maximum allowed is $46 per day (breakfast, $9; lunch, $13; and dinner, $24). Guidelines for meal allowances outside the State of Nebraska can be found on the following Web site: www.gsa.gov. Employees or officers will not be reimbursed for any meal that was provided as part of an event or function should they choose to eat elsewhere absent good cause shown.
Lodging may be reimbursed if the attendance of a meeting or conference requires an officer or employee to be away from the general area of his or her normal work location for a period substantially longer than an ordinary day's work. The absence must be of such duration that the officer or employee cannot reasonably leave and return to that location before and after each day's work.
Generally, a person must be 50 miles or more from his or her workplace in order to be eligible for lodging reimbursement. Under special circumstances and with prior approval, lodging may be approved for distances less than 50 miles. A written request for such approval should be directed to either the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator or if the event is a Judicial Branch Education event, the Judicial Branch Education Director.
Receipts for lodging on motel/hotel letterhead are required for reimbursement (not the charge card receipt). Only actual expenses for lodging are reimbursable, and prior approval is generally required. No movie charges or alcohol charges are allowed. At the time a request is made to attend the conference/meeting, individuals should request that the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or the Judicial Branch Education Director try to arrange for direct billing.
The state rate for lodging should always be requested. In no event should the federal GSA per person per night rate be exceeded without advance approval. Any deviation from the federal per diem rates (GSA per diem rates: www.gsa.gov/perdiem) must be accompanied by documentation justifying the need for such deviation. If an officer or employee shares a room with an individual other than an officer or employee, only the single rate will be reimbursed. The difference must be paid when checking out. The motel/hotel should note the single rate on the bill. If a room is shared by two or more officers or employees, the name(s) should be noted on the bill.
It is the responsibility of an employee or officer to honor hotel/motel checkout times. If a late checkout results in a charge for that day, payment of that charge will be the responsibility of the officer or employee.
Often for meetings and conferences sponsored by the Supreme Court, lodging expenses will be direct billed. Billing should always be checked before leaving the hotel/motel. If lodging is direct billed, individuals must pay additional costs, i.e., telephone calls, which may be indicated on the billing. Personal phone calls are not reimbursable.
If lodging is with friends or relatives, there are no reimbursable lodging expenses.
Registration fees for programs not funded by the Supreme Court are reimbursable if prior approval has been granted. The original receipt or canceled check should be included with the claim.
Parking expenses, tips, tolls, and baggage handling expenses are reimbursable. No receipts are necessary unless the expenses are unusually high.
Other ground travel expense (cab, shuttle bus, intra-city bus, et cetera) is reimbursable. No receipts are necessary unless the expense is unusually high.
Note: If an officer or employee of the Court registers for a conference or workshop and then fails to attend without canceling in adequate time, all expenses (i.e. registration fee, lodging, prescheduled meals, et cetera) will be the responsibility of the officer or employee of the court except under extraordinary circumstances.