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 — Higher fuel prices are showing up at every pump, which will force the City Council to pay a premium for petroleum-based products to keep city buses and fleet vehicles running and maintained.

Big Blue Bus and other city vehicles run on biodiesel, which has spiked in price since the cost per barrel of crude oil topped $100.

To cover the additional costs, the council is expected to approve another $600,000 to General Petroleum Corp., the company which has provided biodiesel fuel and other materials like lubricants to the city since June 2010.

The addition is a drop in the $13.8 million bucket of contracts and expenditures that the council is expected to approve Tuesday.

Santa Monica’s urban forest

The Santa Monica City Council will have put its money where its mouth is today and approve a contract topping $6 million for the care and maintenance of the 33,800 public trees in city limits.

West Coast Arborists, Inc. will likely be the recipient of the $6,286,926 contract for tree pruning, tree removal and replacement trees that pose a risk to public safety.

The company would also have to maintain the electronic tree inventory.

City Hall hired the arborists in 2001 for a one-year contract with nine optional renewals. The final renewal will expire July 10.

Prices have gone up significantly over the course of the last decade. Even pruning a tree costs $30 more than it did in 2001 because of increases in the cost of fuel, insurance, medical benefits and living wage, according to the staff report.

Staff estimated that it would cost the city twice as much over the course of five years to try and do the same work in-house.

Brine disposal

Santa Monica is on its way to water self-sufficiency in terms of more than just supply.

Since 1999, City Hall has contracted with the city of Los Angeles to dispose of briny wastewater from the Arcadia Water Treatment Plant.

However, the completion of a new sewer connection to a Santa Monica pipeline in March will allow City Hall to dispose of the wastewater on its own for substantially less than the existing contract with Los Angeles.

Staff recommended to the council that it approve a $5,022,887 expenditure to cover the cost of disposing the brine water through the Los Angeles sewer system through the end of the 2011 fiscal year.

After that, disposal will cost $2.8 million less per year than if City Hall had continued to contract with Los Angeles.



The City Council is likely to approve a $1.6 million contract to continue a popular service which gives rides to the elderly and disabled.

Dial-a-Ride, which allows qualified people to make reservations for trips within Santa Monica, would be extended for three years with the company that operates the program now, MV Transportation, Inc.

Three companies, including MV Transportation, bid on the project. Representatives from the Big Blue Bus, finance department and WISE and Healthy Aging did interviews and field observations at all three companies.

According to the staff report, MV Transportation has had few complaints, and was the only company that offered to put their trip reservation and vehicle dispatch center in Santa Monica.

It was not the cheapest. Diversified Transportation, out of Los Angeles, bid lower on each of three years of cost estimates.


The doctor is in

The council is expected to approve a four-year, $120,000 contract for a medical director at the Santa Monica Fire Department in order to meet state and county regulations.

Dr. Walid Ghurabi, of the UCLA Medical Center, was the only applicant for the post.

If approved, he will oversee emergency medical dispatch, standing field treatment protocol, ChemPack and controlled substance programs.

The medical director also provides standing orders for the nurse in charge of giving vaccines to public safety personnel, and evaluates how well the fire department’s EMS sticks to medical policies, procedures and protocols.

BBB consultants

Big Blue is prepared to sign contracts with two firms to analyze how BBB operations need to change and to find a new director to head the BBB in the wake of the current director’s announced retirement.

According to the staff report, the addition of the campus expansion program and use of a new fleet management system has changed the way the BBB operates, causing the bus system to look at how it’s organized and what kind of staff it needs.

In response, staff recommends a $120,000 contract with Fred M. Gilliam Associates to analyze assignment scheduling, inventory control procedures and labor relations support through the end of the 2011 calendar year.

That company is already providing an analysis of practices and procedures for the BBB.

Stephanie Negriff announced her intention to retire from the director of transit services position in October 2011, and the BBB has already begun looking for a replacement.

The BBB already has a contract with KL Executive Search, LLC to find a candidate to fill the chief operations officer position, and staff recommends extending the contract to include the director position.

The second recruitment comes at a discount, and would cost $35,800.


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