This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.
PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES -- Reimbursement for Expenses (travel expenses - of governing board member from home to meetings)
PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW, §64: The expenses of the members of the board of commissioners of a recreation district in commuting from their residences to the place where meetings of the board are normally conducted may not be reimbursed as actual and necessary expenses.
This is in response to your letter asking whether commissioners of the Rushford Lake Recreation District may be reimbursed for mileage from their residences to meetings of the board of commissioners.
The Rushford Lake Recreation District was established pursuant to chapter 78 of the Laws of 1981, as amended. Section 7 of chapter 78 provides for the appointment and election of commissioners of the district. Paragraph (e) of section 7 provides that the commissioners shall receive no compensation for services, but is silent with respect to whether the commissioners are entitled to be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses. Public Officers Law, §64, however, provides that every public officer who is not allowed any compensation for his or her services is entitled to be paid for his or her "actual expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of [the officer's] official duties". Thus, since the commissioners serve without compensation, they may be reimbursed, pursuant to section 64, for their "actual expenses necessarily incurred" in the performance of their official duties.
This Office has expressed the opinion, however, that the expenses of a local official incurred in commuting to and from the place where his or her official duties are normally performed are not expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the performance of official duties (see, e.g., 1980 Opns St Comp No. 80-593, p 164; 1980 Opns St Comp No. 80-138, p 36; 26 Opns St Comp, 1970, p 84; 16 Opns St Comp, 1960, p 403; 13 Opns St Comp, 1957, p 166). Thus, absent express statutory authority (see, e.g., County Law, §203[b], expressly authorizing reimbursement to county board members for travel to and from their residences), the expenses of a member of a municipal governing board in commuting from his or her residence to the place where meetings of the board are normally conducted may not be reimbursed as actual and necessary expenses.
Accordingly, we conclude that the commissioners of the Rushford Lake Recreation District may not be reimbursed for mileage from their residences to meetings of the board of commissioners.
December 7, 1993
Josephine M. Tyler, Chairperson
Rushford Lake Recreation District