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 officials are planning to spruce up the Big Blue Bus fleet with nine new 40-foot buses that run on compressed natural gas.

The new buses would replace 13-year-old coaches City Hall says are more costly to maintain and run on dirtier diesel fuel.

The planned purchases will cost $5.16 million, with the funds for three of the nine buses — about $1.9 million — coming from a federal grant received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill.

The new buses are expected to arrive in October, along with other new additions to the fleet. At that point City Hall said more than 65 percent of the BBB fleet will run on natural gas or hybrid technology.

The City Council is expected to approve the bus purchases at its meeting Tuesday night as part of a $6.9 million spending package included in the council’s consent agenda.

It may not seem like an obvious risk to go up in flames, but the Santa Monica Pier is in need of additional fire protection measures, according to a study of the pier’s infrastructure done in 2008. On Tuesday, the council is being asked to approve a contract for $233,000 with Aztec Fire Protection to enhance fire protection at the pier and repair portions of the existing fire sprinkler system beneath the 100-year-old landmark.

The council is also being asked to approve $40,000 more to upgrade the traffic management system meant to speed bus traffic along Wilshire, Santa Monica, Pico and Lincoln boulevards. The upgrade, which is paid for with federal funds given to Santa Monica by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, is now expected to cost $700,000.

The council is also being asked to authorize $1.19 million for security services at the Big Blue Bus facility. The proposed contract with U.S. Security Associates would cover security for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next three fiscal years.

Also expected to win council’s approval is a $58,000 contract extension with Nonzero Architecture for design improvements to the CityTV facility located at 1654 19th St. With the contract amendment, the firm would be paid a total of $261,000 to design $2 million worth of improvements to the facility, according to a City Hall report.

Also on the agenda is a contract amendment worth $250,000 with financial consulting company Public Resources Advisory Group. The company assists City Hall, the Redevelopment Agency and the Parking Authority with financial planning, analysis and debt issuance activities. After the amendment the company’s five-year contract would be worth $500,000.

nickt@www.smdp.com

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