Fresno City Council to vote on termination of city controller in special session Thursday

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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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The Fresno City Council has scheduled a special session Thursday to vote on whether to terminate city controller Michael Lima.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Big money mistakes and accounting struggles could cost the Fresno city controller his job this week.

The Fresno City Council has scheduled a special session for a performance review and possible termination vote on the city's top financial officer, Michael Lima.

For the last eight years, Lima has controlled the finances for the city of Fresno.

From financial planning to accounting and auditing, he's the person in charge of watching out for the city's money.

Earlier this year, he explained to city council how expensive it could become to audit the spending of councilmembers.

"The more years you do, the more it's going to cost," he said during a city council meeting in March. "The more people you look at, the more the cost. You do more years, more people, the more it's going to cost."

Lima has also recently been at the center of controversy.

His department let the city pay scammers more than $600,000 in a 2020 phishing scheme that became public this year.

"It's a lot of taxpayer dollars that were stolen from us and we haven't given up on trying to recover those dollars," Mayor Jerry Dyer said after the massive scam was revealed.

A recent attempt to audit the city's airports department came to an early end because auditors found "areas of noncompliance and significant insufficient controls."

Lima worked as airport finance manager for 12 of his 28 years at the city and City Hall insiders say he's responsible for financial controls in all departments.

Mayor Jerry Dyer and city manager Georgeanne White asked for city council to review Lima's performance and possibly terminate him.

The council gave public notice of a special city council meeting just after 1 p.m. Wednesday.

An Action News reporter saw Lima just afterwards and asked if he wanted to talk about it.

He said "not right now."

Minutes later, the assistant city manager in charge of personnel walked him out of the building.

A spokeswoman from the mayor's office wouldn't comment about the meeting or Lima's job status.

The behind-closed-doors discussion was scheduled for noon Thursday, but because the public notice went up late, they won't be able to have that discussion until at least 1 p.m.