GAA Governing Board Policy

Community Relations Expenditures and General Activity Account

Revised: 11/20/20

I. Purpose & Justification of Expenditures

Implicit in the College mission of instruction and public service are understanding and response to the needs of the community. Understanding and response are based primarily on community outreach. Such outreach both necessitates and justifies a variety of community relations expenditures for activities that would include meals and entertainment, volunteer recruitment, and participation in public functions and community organizations.

Approval for such expenditures shall be based on justification. Justification shall be based on demonstrated value to the College. Examples of value would include activities that promote new service opportunities, curriculum development, graduate placement opportunities, cooperative education programs, articulation agreements, education of legislators and other government officials about College needs and objectives, positive employee morale, and positive community relations.

II. Control and Accounting of Expenditures

The revenue for community relations activities may be any unrestricted public funds controlled by the Governing Board including monies from vending machines, pay telephones and automatic teller machines. Such funds are public monies and, therefore, are subject to state and federal laws as well as Governing Board policies.

Revenues and expenditures for community relations activities shall be accounted for in the General Activity Account, classified under public service, and held separate and apart from accounts funded by the state appropriation. The General Activity Account shall be controlled by Governing Board policy and shall not be considered an agency fund. Funding requests for state monies shall not include requests to fund community relations activities.

Revenues from vending machines, pay telephones and automatic teller machines shall be deposited directly into the General Activity Account. Transfer from sources other than the state appropriation is permitted to balance the account.

The expenditure records for the General Activity Account will be maintained in the business office and shall be retained in accordance with regulations issued by the State Records Center and Archives.

III. Allowable Expenditures

With required documentation and approvals, expenditures are allowable for:

  1. Meal/refreshments for meetings with advisory committees, business and industry, and similar groups or representatives thereof concerned with CNM matters.

    Justification: The appropriateness of expenditures for meals or refreshments should be judged on the value of information exchanged. Groups and representatives as listed above volunteer their time to assist the College with instructional program development, job placement efforts and other advisory activities that help CNM meet its mission. The information received from these volunteers is crucial to the College’s success. Thus, the value to the College far exceeds the cost of the meals provided.

    Such activities are also opportunities to relay to these community representatives information about CNM including instructional programs, financial aid options, and special training opportunities that support business and industry and economic development. Supplying meals or refreshments is not only totally justified, but at the very least, common courtesy regardless of time involved. Time is not an effective measure of the activity’s benefit to the College.

  2. Meals/refreshments for legislators and representatives of other institutions, governmental agencies and educational institutions when College business is discussed and the president or designee(s) is present.

    Justification: The appropriateness of expenditures for meals or refreshments should be judged on the value of information exchanged. Certainly, in these times of strong competition for public dollars, it is imperative that the College communicate its needs and concerns to legislators and representatives of other institutions and governmental agencies. Regular contact with these individuals helps assure that CNM receives high priority as available resources are allocated. Reasonable expenditures on meals and refreshments yield financial benefit to the College far in excess of the amount spent.

    Likewise, a definite need exists for interaction with representatives of other educational institutions. A host of issues demands discussion including cooperative programs and course and program transfers. Such exchanges enhance the quality of instructional programs. Build cooperation among the institutions, and ultimately benefit the students. These benefits far exceed the cost of meals or refreshments.

  3. Meals/refreshments for meetings with Board members, employees, invited guests and the public when the purpose of the meeting is to conduct College business.

    Justification: Meals/refreshments for such activities are legal and appropriate. Public representatives, College employees and Board members spend substantial time at Board meetings, often at night and on weekends. Common Courtesy dictates that the College offer refreshments on such occasions. The result is a more effective College via enhanced community relations including fund-raising and friend-raising.

  4. Expenses (travel/lodging/meals) of visiting officials, consultants, and speakers brought to CNM to render services. Expenditures may include the cost of meals for College employees closely connected with the activity.

    Justification: Such expenses should be judged solely on benefit to the College. Invaluable information on how better to render services to meet CNM’s mission is garnered from such visitors as representatives of accrediting agencies, speakers for activities like staff development, and consultants on issues that involve spending public funds on administrative or program matters new to CNM. Paying expenses for such activities is clearly appropriate, whether or not required by written contract, and benefits received far exceed amount spent.

  5. Graduation activities, including refreshments and entertainment.

    Justification: CNM’s student population traditionally has included many with limited financial means for whom completing a program has been economically difficult. CNM has an ongoing commitment to offer its programs and services at the least possible cost to the student. Graduation is a time of celebration and the College maintains it has the right-in fact, obligation-to honor its graduates with activities that show pride in their accomplishments. The community relations and morale benefits are invaluable when one considers that these graduates become employees of area companies and future advocates for CNM.

  6. Recognition activities, including purchase of awards to recognize retirement,
    service or meritorious performance by employees and students.

    Justification: There is no question about the legality of employee recognition via, pins, plaques, certificates or other such gifts, so long as the gift is recognized as resulting from employee performance. In fact, recognition of employees is accepted without question in the public sector as basic morale booster and internal public relations tool. In both the public and private sectors, good management dictates recognition of meritorious performance by employees.

  7. Meals/refreshments for professional development activities.

    Justification: Professional development activities result in more effective employees and, therefore, a more effective College. Professional development activities sponsored by CNM for employees traditionally are presented in daylong sessions that include breaks for light refreshments and an employee recognition luncheon. Paying for such luncheons and refreshments with public funds is appropriate.

  8. Sponsorship of College representatives at public functions-including those sponsored by not-for-profit organizations-by such means as purchase of tickets or payment of entry fees when attendance is required or approved by the president.

    Justification: The legality of such activities under the anti-donation clause of the state Constitution has long been debated. The consensus among post-secondary institutions is that representation of an institution at such events-including those sponsored by not-for-profit organizations-constitutes legal and appropriate community relations activity that promotes valuable information exchanges regarding the institution. That opinion seems especially justified for community colleges. CNM, for example, has become so integral a part of its district community that lack of such interaction and visibility-giving information to and receiving information from the public-would render it less effective in meeting its mission.

  9. Financial support for activities under the direct control of other public entities.

    Justification: The College has a history of active participation in and support of educational activities sponsored by other public entities. Its role as a community college dictates that CNM continue such involvement, which mutually benefits both the community and the College. Benefits derived from support for such educational activities as community-wide celebrations, academic contests, conferences and publications far exceed cost to the College. Such involvement helps the College meet its mission by increasing awareness of CNM, enhancing its image and providing opportunities for valuable exchange of information and ideas to increase College success.

  10. Memberships in professional and not-for-profit organizations when such memberships are in the name of the College or the individual as an employee of the College and if such memberships will result in knowledge and information that could reasonably be expected to enhance the College.

    Justification: Payment is justified and appropriate for memberships in professional organizations where the employee is clearly representing CNM. Knowledge and information given and received through participation in such organizations keeps the participating employees and, therefore, the College abreast of professional and community development and assists CNM in meeting its mission. This is of far greater value to the College than the cost of membership.

    For activities not listed, approval must be obtained as outlined in Section V of this policy.

IV. Prohibited Expenditures

Expenditures from public funds are prohibited for:

  1. Alcoholic beverages. (No request for payment or reimbursement may include alcoholic beverages.)
  2. Political contributions
  3. Contributions for not-for-profit organizations unless stated otherwise herein.
  4. Personal expenses of any kind.
  5. Personal gifts, except as provided in Section III.
  6. Activities whose primary purpose is entertainment-i.e., parties/athletic events/plays/concerts-regardless of whether College business is conducted.
  7. Activities which have been or may be reimbursed under another College policy or from an external source. (If an employee entertains while traveling on College business and claims reimbursement under this policy, the amount must be excluded from the travel reimbursement request.)
  8. Flowers for employees, students, Board members or their families on such occasions as birth, death or serious illness.
  9. Requests inadequately documented or not approved as outlined in Section V of this policy.

V. Approval Procedures, Documentation and Review

  1. Requests for expenditure must include as justification a statement of the purpose of the expenditure and demonstrated value to the College.
  2. Reimbursements or direct payments to vendors or suppliers shall not be made unless documented by:
  • Original receipts, credit card drafts, or bills stating the amount to be paid or reimbursed.
  • A list of persons attending the activity. (If the activity includes more than 30 participants, the list should include the primary individuals and the name of the group(s) in attendance.)
  • Some evidence that College business was conducted such as an agenda, handout materials, minutes or memo from the requestor stating the general topic(s) of discussion.
  1. Expenditures shall require approval from the vice president for finance and operations or designee.
  2. The president or designee shall approve requests originated by vice presidents of the College.
  3. Requests shall be reviewed by the business office for appropriate approvals and adequate documentation before the purchase is made. The business office shall refer questionable requests to the vice president for finance and operations.
  4. The General Activity Account shall be audited periodically by the internal auditor. The auditor shall report his findings to the Audit Committee of the Governing Board.