Human Resources Benefits Unit 500

Staff Development and Wellness Reimbursement Program 

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The County of Sonoma is committed to providing efficient and high quality services to the community and recognizes the knowledge, skills, and well being of our workforce are critical to achieving this goal. Therefore, the employee Staff Development Benefit Allowance Program has been developed to encourage learning and wellness. Specifically, the Staff Development Benefit Allowance Program provides an annual reimbursement allowance, as negotiated by collective bargaining or contained in the Salary Resolution, to assist County employees achieve professional and educational growth and achieve wellness and physical fitness goals to ensure healthy lifestyles.

The Program covers work-related expenditures such as classes and seminars, professional memberships, registration fees, educational materials, tools and equipment. Additionally, the program may also be used for wellness activities by allowing participation in a wide variety of activities that promote emotional and physical fitness that are not medically necessary and would not otherwise be covered through a County-offered health plan.

Exercise200All benefits provided under this Program are subject to applicable provisions of federal and/or state law, and County policies and procedures, as approved by the County Administrator and the Board of Supervisors. These policies and procedures include, but are not limited to the County Travel and Meal Reimbursement Policy, Vehicle Use Policy, Policy on Purchasing, and the Departmental Computer Use Policy.

Eligible Expenses & Exclusions

Examples of eligible expenses, exceptions and exclusions are listed for each category, including a general explanation of which expenses are taxable and any restrictions that may apply.

What is My Annual Allowance?

Generally, full and part time employees are eligible for this benefit. Specific benefits and eligibility vary according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for each bargaining unit or the Salary Resolution for unrepresented employees.

The annual allowance is the amount of reimbursable funds as negotiated for your bargaining unit and authorized by the Board of Supervisors.

For more information, see Reimbursement Allowance by Bargaining Unit

Tracking Your Balance

BalanceHuman Resources' Risk Management is responsible for maintaining benefit allowances in the Staff Development Database and administering eligible reimbursements.  The Staff Development Database is updated weekly.

The benefit allowance balance reflects claims that have been both approved and forwarded to Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector (ACTTC) for processing.

Staff Development Benefit Database
(requires intranet access)

Prorated Benefit Allowances

Annual benefit allowances are provided on a fiscal year basis, from July 1 to June 30 annually.

New Hires or Mid-Year Promotions

If you were hired or promoted:

  • In the 1st or 2nd quarter (July 1 - December 31), you are eligible for entire (100%) of the annual allowance.
  • In the 3rd quarter (January 1 - March 31), you are eligible for one-half (1/2) of the annual allowance.
  • In the 4th quarter of the fiscal year (April 1 - June 30), you are eligible for one-quarter (1/4) of the annual allowance.

Off-boarding or Mid-Year Terminations

If you left employment:

  • In the 1st or 2nd quarter (July 1 - December 31), you are eligible for one-half (1/2) of the annual allowance.
  • In the 3rd quarter (January 1 - March 31), you are eligible for three-quarters (3/4) of the annual allowance.
  • In the 4th quarter of the fiscal year (April 1 - June 30), you are eligible for entire (100%) of the annual allowance.

Tax Status

All benefits provided through this Program are subject to taxability requirements of the Internal Revenue Code, and any other applicable federal and/or state law relating to the provision of employment fringe benefits. Fringe benefits for employees are considered taxable wages, unless specifically excluded by relevant sections of the Internal Revenue Code. The eligible reimbursable benefits provided through the Staff Development and Wellness Allowance Program are primarily governed by IRC §132.

Only those benefits which are directly related to or required for your job with the County of Sonoma are non-taxable, as defined by federal and/or state law and can be excluded from taxable wages, otherwise the reimbursement amount is considered a taxable wage and will be taxed appropriately through payroll. According to the IRS, benefits are excluded from federal gross income as a working condition fringe benefit to the extent, if you had paid the expense yourself, you could claim the expense as a deductible business expense under IRC§162.

Contact Information

Benefits Unit

Human Resources Department

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Contact us by Phone
Address
575 Administration Drive
Room 116 B
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.465237, -122.725363

Contact Staff Development

Staff Development Tools & Forms

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Find negotiation updates, MOUs and salary resolution information, and bargaining unit contacts.

 

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