MUSCATINE, Iowa - Embattled Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson is continuing to dig into the city's finances from 2014-2015, including thousands of dollars in expenses related to a trip the city administrator and community development took to China in December 2014.
The City Council attempted to impeach Broderson, in part because they say she is wasting taxpayer money by asking for a re-audit of those expenses from the state. However, Broderson says she is the one trying to make sure taxpayer money is being spent wisely.
"The people didn't feel like they were getting answers to those questions and so they came to me after I was elected and asked me to help them find answers," said Broderson.
The results of Broderson's requested re-audit were released on Thursday, July 27 by State Auditor Mary Mosiman and while they don't show any major discrepancies, it showed the city didn't accurately document certain expenses and events that took place during the trip.
The report reviews the city administrator and community development director's trip to China in December of 2014 that cost a total of $4,192.69.According to the state audit, the city didn't accurately document certain expenses and events that took place during the trip. Five travel expenses for airfare and meals totaling $2,403.44 did not have sufficient documentation to determine if the trip was beneficial to the public based on the itinerary provided.
Broderson said she thinks people should have the opportunity to review the audit and see for themselves what taxpayer money was spent on.
"Why did we go on the trip, how did it benefit us?" she asked. " It will be good for people to have those questions answered."
While one of the stated purposes of the trip was to promote economic development, Broderson said that didn't appear to be a big part of the agenda.
"There was a visit to one company, with one meeting but there was no documentation of the meeting," said Broderson.
However, city officials involved in the trip say in a response to the re-audit, that all the expenses were justified.
"The City respects the State Auditor’s position and understands that the report uncovered no major issues, however, we disagree with all of the findings and recommendations.," city officials wrote in a press release.
The full text of the release can be found here.
Going forward, the state auditor recommends the city council should pre-approve all travel to China and document what the benefit is to the public.
"I think we should all be glad that there wasn`t more found that was wrong, I'm very pleased that there were a lot of good things that came out of this," said Broderson.
News 8 reached out to the city administrator, city attorney and city finance director who were all unavailable for comment because they are on vacation.