The Fresno City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the city manager’s recommendation to fire the city controller.
The vote happened in a late-night, closed session, special meeting. The council voted to name Ruthie Quinto as interim controller and to launch an audit of the finance department within 60 days.
City officials typically don’t comment on personnel issues, so no explanation was given for the termination.
The City Controller, Michael Lima, oversees the finance department and manages accounting, financial administration and reporting, budgeting, internal audits, treasury/cash management, investments, payroll, billing and accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing, reproduction and graphics, and business licenses and cashiering.
“Overall responsibility for management of the city’s finances rests with the Finance Director/Controller who also serves as the City Treasurer,” the city’s website says.
The termination comes months after The Bee broke the story of the city losing $600,000 to a phishing scam. The scam occurred in 2020, but city officials didn’t disclose it until The Bee asked about it, citing an ongoing FBI investigation. City officials have not said if losing the $600,000 was a reason for Lima’s termination.
Lima’s employment agreement with the city was updated in July. He earns an annual base salary of $189,500. He’s worked for the city of Fresno for nearly three decades.
While the city manager has authority over the city controller’s employment, the agreement calls for City Council approval.
Per the employment agreement, Lima is entitled to six months’ pay as severance.