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FIN-6.14 - Non-travel Meals, Light Refreshments and Related Miscellaneous Expenses

Binding City Policy

The purpose of this administrative rule is to establish minimum standards for the City payment or reimbursement of non-travel meals, light refreshment expenses and related miscellaneous expense.
Authority for this administrative rule is established in the City Charter and the City Code. This administrative rule has been approved by the City Council.
The Accounting Division of the Bureau of Financial Services of the Office of Management and Finance (Accounting Division) will periodically monitor bureaus to assess compliance with the minimum standards of this rule. As instances of non-compliance are identified, bureaus will be required to develop and implement a corrective action plan. The Accounting Division will provide assistance to bureaus, if requested, to develop this plan. The Controller will report all instances of non-compliance annually to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and City Council.
“Employee” means any represented and non-represented employee as well as the Mayor, Council Members, City Auditor, and their designated representative. The term employee may also refer to an individual in a temporary or contracted position.
“Light refreshment” means snacks and beverages consumed outside a regular meal. Light refreshments are occasionally served at citywide meetings or official bureau functions and may include pastries, cookies, fruit, vegetables, coffee and punch. Box lunches are not considered light refreshments.
“Non-travel meal” means a breakfast, lunch, or dinner that occurs on official City business but does not take place during out-of-town travel. Box lunches are considered non-travel meals.
“Out-of-town travel” means travel on City business away from the normal work place or residence that requires an overnight stay. Out-of-town travel expenses include transportation, meal and incidental per diem, lodging and special expenses.
“Related miscellaneous expense” means incidental non-travel expense incurred in conjunction with the conduct of official City business.
“Volunteer” means a member of a board, commission, advisory committee, and any other individual providing authorized services to the City of Portland without pay.
General Guidelines
1.  City employees shall follow the principles set forth in the Code of Ethics. 
2.  City resources shall be used for the benefit of the public rather than for the personal benefit of any City official or employee. 
3.  Elected City officials or their designees may be reimbursed for allowable expenses including those relating to international delegations or events.
4.  City employees shall, in general, be expected to provide their own non-travel meals and refreshments while attending meetings, including offsite meetings and trainings, for which no out-of-town, overnight travel is required.
5.  Citywide functions may, under certain circumstances, include light refreshments.
6.  The City may, in recognition of volunteer services, pay or reimburse approved volunteer expenses as described in this rule.
7.  Reimbursements for non-travel meals, light refreshments, and related miscellaneous expenses shall be for actual cost and shall be documented as described in this rule.
8.  This administrative rule shall apply to non-travel meals, light refreshments, and related miscellaneous expenses regardless of funding source or method of payment.
9.  The following items fall outside the scope of this administrative rule:
     a.  Non-travel meals, light refreshments, and miscellaneous expenses relating to lobbying activities.
     b.  Retirement awards and occasional motivational awards provided as recognition for valued employees (addressed in Human Resources Administrative Rule 4.07 Awards, Prizes and Promotional Items).
     c.  Clothing items provided to employees in accordance bargaining agreements (addressed in Administrative Rule FIN 6.05 Clothing and Equipment Allowances and Reimbursements).
Allowable Non-Travel Meals and Light Refreshments
1.  Non-travel meals for elected officials or their designees relating to promotion of economic development, building community cooperation, or information gathering shall be allowable as long as such expenses can be clearly demonstrated to provide benefit to the public interest.
2.  Non-travel meals may be allowed for limited occasions such as the following for which an elected official or employee:
     a.  Serves as the facilitator for a work group, commission, etc. which meets during a meal hour in order to accommodate the participants’ schedules and for which no more than 50% of all participants are City employees;
     b.  Attends a meeting for which continuous availability is required for a period extending beyond four hours;
     c.  Attends a meeting or function at an offsite facility for which refreshments and/or meals are included as part of facility rental; and
     d.  Attends a meeting of a professional or civic organization for which meal is included as part of the cost of attendance and for which there is a direct and specific benefit to the City.
3.  Non-travel meals provided in accordance with labor agreements shall follow guidelines set forth in those agreements.
4.  Light refreshment may be allowable for citywide functions that include employees, volunteers, and/or non-City employees for the following:
     a.  Meetings of boards, commissions, or advisory committees created by City Charter or City Council,
     b.  Informal City Council meetings or work sessions,
     c.  Meetings or functions for purpose of recognizing valued contributions of City employees and/or volunteers, and
     d.  Official bureau-wide or citywide training sessions.
5.  Light refreshments for employee retirement parties may be allowable within bureau-established limits.  Refer to HR Administrative Rule 4.07.
Allowable Miscellaneous Expenses
1.  Volunteer expenses – As appropriate and where budgeted funds are available, the City may pay or reimburse the following volunteer expenses:
     a.  Transit fares,
     b.  Parking fees,
     c.  Private vehicle mileage,
     d.  Occasional meals, and
     e.  Appreciation receptions.
2.  Dues and subscriptions may be allowed for City employees at bureau discretion, as long as benefit to the City can be demonstrated and documented, as follows:
     a.  Dues for professional or trade organizations.
     b.  Dues for non-discriminatory civic or charitable organizations.
     c.  Dues only are allowable; other costs such as meeting meals, fines, or personal assessments are not allowable.
     d.  Business-related newspaper, magazine, and web-based subscriptions.
3.  For elected officials and their designees, other items may be allowable as long as such expenses can be demonstrated to benefit public interest; for example, flowers or official gifts relating to promotion of economic development, building community cooperation, or information gathering.
4.  Other appropriate items may be allowable at bureau discretion including:
     a.  First aid supplies,
     b.  Bottled water, and
     c.  Plants and plant care.
Prohibited Expenses
1.  Prohibited expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:
     a.  Alcoholic beverages, 
     b.  Light refreshments for employee staff meetings, and
     c.  Meals and light refreshments that have not been pre-authorized.
2.  Expenses and/or reimbursement shall not be authorized for:
     a.  Holiday parties and/or decorations,
     b.  Employee promotions and transfers,
     c.  Celebrations of a personal nature, and
     d.  Decorations, utensils, or serving containers for purposes listed above.
3.  Personal work-space comfort items such as space heaters, fans, etc. shall not be authorized or purchased directly by the bureau but instead, requests for such items shall referred to Facilities Services for appropriate resolution.
1.  Non-travel meals, light refreshments, and related miscellaneous expense shall require written pre-authorization by the elected official, Bureau director, or his/her designee.
2.  Non-travel meals, light refreshments, and miscellaneous expense shall be recorded to appropriate account numbers assigned by the Accounting Division.
3.  Request for payment or employee reimbursement must include
     a.  Original receipt or contemporaneous record with date,
     b.  Cost of meal, refreshments, or miscellaneous expense,
     c.  Location of meal or meeting,
     d.  Copy of agenda for meeting, training or other event (if applicable).
     e.  Business purpose of expense demonstrating benefit to City, and
     f.  Listing of names and business relationships of individuals for whom meals, refreshments, or other items are being provided at City expense. For events such as open houses where specific names cannot be obtained, an estimate of the number of attendees shall be provided.
4.  The Accounting Division may establish a Citywide procedure for the processing, recording, documentation, and payment of such expenses and may require the use of a standardized form for this purpose.


Emergency Ordinance No. 181046, passed by City Council June 13, 2007 and effective July 1, 2007.