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Philipp Barnett (right) and Matthew Martinez, visiting from Germany, find out the hard way that the pay machines only take dollar bills or credit cards at Parking Structure 8 at Santa Monica Place on Monday afternoon. City Hall is expected tonight to approve a contract for 17 more pay-on-foot stations for structures Downtown. (photo by Brandon Wise)

Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the city’s expenditures appearing on upcoming Santa Monica City Council consent agendas. Consent agenda items are routinely passed by the City Council with little or no discussion from elected officials or the public. However, many of the items have been part of public discussion in the past.

CITY HALL — City negotiators announced in September that employees had agreed to cover 5 percent of their health care premium costs, a shift from the status quo of 100 percent employer-paid, full-family coverage.

Now, the City Council is set to approve payment of the other 95 percent at its meeting tonight. The price tag: $20.6 million for 2011.

The proposed deal is with a new insurer, Cigna, which, according to a City Hall report, came in with the most competitive bid. Current insurer Aetna had proposed a 15.6 percent premium increase for 2011, compared with a 5.3 percent cost increase offered by Cigna.

The plan would cover all employees except for police officers, who will negotiate a new health care deal with City Hall next year.

The proposed deal is part of a $22.7 million spending package included on the council’s consent agenda for tonight’s meeting.

With the goal of making Downtown parking structures more efficient and cost effective, the council is also expected to approve $1.2 million for 17 pay-on-foot machines for City Hall parking facilities.

The proposed contract with Sentry Control Systems Inc. “will further the city’s goal to improve parking operation and is expected to save approximately $450,000 per year in parking operator contractor staffing costs,” according to City Hall. The new machines would accept both cash and credit card payments.

Also on the agenda is a proposed $200,000 contract for the law firm Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore to provide personnel-related legal services. The firm, which for several years has been a City Hall contractor, works on employee disciplinary matters including workplace investigations, personnel board hearings, litigation, labor law-related training and preparation of legal reports.

As City Hall continues work on its Long Range Urban Forest Master Plan and a Web-based forest management system, the council also is being asked to sign off on an additional $100,839 for the architecture firm involved in the project.

The proposed contract amendment is with the firm Artecho Architecture + Landscape Architecture and would expand the scope of work to include development of detailed street segment drawings and development of a component of the electronic forest management system.

The contract amendment would bring the firm’s total agreement with City Hall to $304,630.

In order to be prepared for the possibility of a terrorist attack or other major disaster, the council also is being asked to approve $102,000 for 245 personal protective suits designed to guard against contaminated environments.

The proposed deal is with the Blauer Manufacturing Co. and would be funded with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant awarded to bolster urban area security.

The council is also expected to approve an additional $174,000 for the firm Central Parking System. The contract amendment would add maintenance and operations responsibilities at three more locations to the company’s scope of service: the 400 block of Colorado, 1326 Fifth St. and all of the Main Street parking lots. The firm’s total City Hall contract for parking resource management is $5.6 million annually.

nickt@smdp.com

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