Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
County to discuss meal reimbursements
Washington — The Washington County Board of Supervisors said Tuesday morning that they’d reconsider employees’ meal reimbursement rates at a meeting next week.
The county’s current payments of $12 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $29 for dinner exceed the Iowa Department of Administrative Services’ guidelines updated in July: $8, $10 and $19, respectively. Still, some officials said that doesn’t cover reasonable costs of food.
“It’s hard for county employees to eat at those rates due to current inflation,” Washington County Supervisor Richard Young said. “You can’t hardly eat at McDonald’s for $12 anymore.”
Young floated a plan to raise the pay back for breakfast, lunch and dinner to $15, $20 and $35, respectively. He said doing so would balance staff needs with county constraints.
“If you want a $75 steak, then I think that’s on you,” he said.
The current county employee manual does allow reimbursements at higher rates in “extenuating circumstances” like out-of-state travel, as long as employees get department head approval.
Supervisor Marcus Fedler said that flexibility could be sufficient on its own.
“I think it’s important that they’re going to be compensated for that,” he said. “But I also think that they’re going to eat whether they’re there or here.”
Fedler proposed a flat daily rate instead, saying it’d be easier to plan around and likely cost less.
“I like the idea of a per diem,” he said. “It’s X amount of dollars, however you spend it … that wouldn’t even require receipts, but I guess don’t know if we could do that here. In the private sector, we used to do that all the time.”