The fifth graders from the environmentally conscience Will Rodgers Middle School and other schools of the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District explore the creatures of the ocean floor at the Aquarium Under the Pier on Friday morning.

(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 — Heal the Bay is set to receive $120,000 from City Hall during the next four years under a proposed contract for educational services the City Council is expected to approve tonight.

The contract extension is part of a $3.26 million spending package included on the council’s consent agenda.

Under the proposal, Heal the Bay would agree to provide K-12 students at public and private schools with marine science and environmental studies lessons.

“The provision of quality environmentally-focused programs and curriculum to school-aged children is an important step in achieving a more sustainable community and a better quality of life for years to come,” a report on the proposal from City Hall’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment stated.

The council first approved a contract for educational services with Heal the Bay in 2005, when the organization was selected out of eight bidders. Heal the Bay was the only group to bid on the contract this year.

The program is designed to raise awareness of coastal geography and the ocean environment and to teach science, conservation, pollution prevention and personal responsibility through stewardship. Services include field trips to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and participation in Santa Monica’s Coastal Cleanup Day.

Going green<p>

Hoping to cut down on travel times for bus passengers, City Council members are also expected to approve $1.3 million to install equipment that would enable busses with the longest routes to communicate with the traffic signal system, triggering extra green light time when they’re running behind schedule.

The system would affect 80 traffic signals on Wilshire, Santa Monica, Pico, and Lincoln boulevards. The project is funded under a grant from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The council is expected to sign off on a $1.14 million construction contract with Terno, Inc. and a $150,000 contract with Willdan Engineering for the construction management and inspection services.

Contracting out <p>

The council is also expected to approve $360,000 for five years worth of software maintenance services for City Hall’s electronic timekeeping and attendance program. The proposed deal is with Kronos, Inc.

With the goal of recovering misallocated sales tax revenue, the council is also expected to approve a contract with Hinderliter, de Llamas and Associates for sales and use tax audit services. The proposed deal would cost City Hall $9,000 annually plus 15 percent of recovered sales and use tax for a term of five years.

According to a Finance Department report, City Hall has recovered $4 million in the past nine years by auditing California Board of Equalization collections.

Also on the agenda is a proposed $269,000 contract with Altec Industries for a compressed natural gas-fueled “bucket truck” used for tree trimming. The purchase would replace a truck that that has reached the end of its useful life, according to a City Hall report.

The council also is being asked to approve an additional $39,000 for Laserfiche, a company that provides imaging and document management software to City Hall. The contract amendment would bring the company’s total agreement to $159,000.

The council is also expected to approve a contract with, an Illinois-based non-profit organization, for services related to the planning of a 30th Anniversary Farmers’ Market celebration and Southern California FamilyFarmed EXPO in Santa Monica in September 2011. Producing the event is expected to cost between $200,000 and $400,000 but will be offset by sponsorship agreements, a City Hall report said.

Also on the agenda is an additional $50,000 for NelsonNygaard Consulting Associates, which is working on landscape, street lighting, traffic circulation, and pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements on Longfellow Street in the Borderline Neighborhood. The amendment brings the company’s total contract to $477,000.

The council is also expected to approve a $780,000, three- year contract with Valley Power Systems, Inc., a company that provides Big Blu Bus engine parts.

Pay to play<p>

The council is also expected to set fees for food trucks that participate in the food truck courts that will be part of this year’s Glow event. The proposed fees would be $300 per truck for those in the designated area of the South Beach lot and $450 per truck for those in the designated area of the 1550 lot north of the Santa Monica Pier.

Also on the agenda is a proposed contract with Janet Epstein & Associates to provide court reporting, transcription, deposition and videoconferencing services. The contract amount is $240,000 for a four-year term.

The council is also expected to increase its support for the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign by agreeing to allocate $67,000 to the nearly two-year old campaign.

“In light of the city’s continued commitment to sustainable economic development and the fact that local businesses continue to struggle through the second year of a severe economic downturn, staff recommends that the City Council make a one-time allocation toward the campaign to help promote local businesses and sustainable purchasing during these difficult economic times leading up to the holiday season,” a City Hall report stated.

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