Guttenberg residents petition for audit - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Guttenberg residents petition for audit

GUTTENBERG (KWWL) -- As we reported Monday night the Guttenberg City Council re-hired it's former Police Chief George Morteo. It was a quick and confusing process for many in the crowd. Many who are still unsure if Morteo should be leading their police department. Today we learned the city has been audited upon citizen request.

It's been just a day since the Guttenberg city council approved George Morteo as police chief. Still many wonder whether it was the right decision.

"George is a nice guy, he would do anything for you but I don't believe he is police chief material. And I think it's an absolute tragedy that he got rehired," said Virginia Saeueling.

Morteo was fired last year, under Mayor Jim Solomon. Around that same time, March 2009, one group petitioned for a state audit.

"We just wondering where the moneys went to, they spend uh one point some million a marina," said Roxy Knockel.

Under Iowa law, a town the size of Guttenberg only needs 100 signatures from taxpayers to petition the state for an audit. The last audit was in 2007. The next routine audit was scheduled for 2011.

"You hear it happening in other cities around the state, it's definitely not unheard of," said City Manager Barry Dykhuizen.

In fact several cities requested audits after the floods of 2008. Supporters of the audit say they want to know where their tax dollars are going. Sighting specifically this marina project, funded by grand money. The 154 signatures supporting the audit were compiled before Morteo was fired. But organizers say it had nothing to do with Mayor Solomon or Morteo.

"In fact we had ordered the petition before that even happened," said Knockel.

A year later and the state is completing the two year audit, for 2008 and 2009. Both years Solomon served as Mayor and Morteo as police chief. The grant money received for the marina project was granted when Gerald Block was Mayor before.

"And the reason it cost so much is because they missed the deadline, they had to return the money and start all over," said Saeueling.

The state auditors office expects to release information in mid-June. And those results could answer the questions people have been asking for years.

"The audit might show the police chief cheated the city out of thousands of dollars," said Saeueling.

"All I wanna know is where did all the money go, where they spent it, what happen to it all," said Knockel.

We contacted Mayor Block Tuesday. He confirmed the audit but didn't comment further. We also called the police department for a comment. They didn't return our calls.

By the way Mayor Block says Morteo was sworn in Tuesday morning.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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