Officials are proposing to spend $3.6 million on the city's smart parking meters in both service charges and upgrades. (Photo by Daniel Archuleta)
Officials are proposing to spend $3.6 million on the city's smart parking meters in both service charges and upgrades. (Photo by Daniel Archuleta)
Officials are proposing to spend $3.6 million on the city’s smart parking meters in both service charges and upgrades. (Photo by Daniel Archuleta)

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 — The City Council is expected to approve two contract extensions worth a total of $3.6 million at its meeting Tuesday to cover unexpected credit card servicing charges and maintenance costs for the new “smart” parking meters.

The council approved new parking meters in October 2011 that would accept credit cards as a form of payment, but City Hall pays a transaction fee every time a parker uses their credit card, sometimes as much as 31 cents.

That means for every $1 a person pays for parking, City Hall receives 69 cents, depending on which credit card company is involved.

Officials estimated that 30 percent of parkers would use their credit cards, but an average of 60 percent of all meter transactions — or roughly 600,000 per month — are paid for with a card.

The number of transactions required a $450,000 per year increase to the contract for IPS Group Inc., the company that provided the meters and replacement pieces, and a $1 million per year increase to a contract with TransFirst Health and Government Services Inc., which processes the credit card transactions.

Officials also recommend another $100,000 for new batteries and an additional $50,000 for spare parts, bringing the total IPS Group contract extension to $600,000. The TransFirst contract increase was $3 million.

The parking meters constitute the majority of the $4,836,965 on the consent agenda.


New vehicles


Officials requested $554,651 to buy 10 new electric vehicles to replace older versions with hard-to-get replacement parts.

If approved, City Hall would buy 10 new Toyota RAV4 electric vehicles to replace leased RAV4s from 2003, the last year in which the cars were built before the company reissued them in 2012. According to the staff report, Toyota will not provide support for the old cars, which had limited production with parts that are increasingly difficult to find.

Each RAV4 costs $55,465, and a $10,000 per-vehicle discount is available until the end of March for new RAV4s financed through Toyota Financial Services.

City Hall can also get a $22,500 subsidy from two state programs, bringing the net price down to $22,965. The vehicle would be purchased through a contract between the National Auto Fleet Group and the National Joint Powers Alliance, a service cooperative based in Minnesota, which buys in bulk to get the best deal for multiple buyers.


Trash bins


The only thing worse than taking out the trash is if the bin falls apart before it gets to the curb. With that in mind, City Hall is requesting $450,000 for two, three and four-yard plastic refuse and recycling containers to replace old bins throughout the city.

Officials recommend Ball, Bounce and Sports Inc., an Ohio-based company that sources plastic containers. According to the report, plastic bins trump the metal kind because they cause less noise and result in fewer injuries to city employees.

City Hall found Ball, Bounce and Sports Inc., then called Superior Rotation Molding, LLC, in February 2011.

Since the first plastic containers were put in the field, over 550 bins have been replaced with plastic.


Working it


The Santa Monica Police Department is requesting $89,814 to determine whether a 3-12 work schedule is still the best fit for the department.

If approved, Citygate Associates would be charged with the review of work schedules as well as ways to improve internal communications and increase efficiency within the department.

According to the staff report, Citygate would be looking at a variety of different work schedules that currently apply to different kinds of sworn and unsworn employees in the department.

Civilian staff assigned to the jail and police communications as well as all patrol officers work three, 12-hour days, whereas detectives and specialized units work four, 10-hour days each week.

The longer workday was adopted in 2009 as a six-month pilot program, and was found to reduce overtime pay and sick leave.

Officials chose to revisit the schedule after Jacqueline Seabrooks took over as the new police chief in May 2012.


Banking services


Officials recommend a $75,000 contract extension with Santa Monica’s existing bank through July 31 as City Hall works to transition to a different financial organization.

City Hall currently uses Bank of America for its primary banking services, a contract that lasts until the end of March. The City Council approved a new contract with Wells Fargo Bank in November 2012, but officials need to leave the accounts at both banks open simultaneously for four months, according to a city staff report.


Rate study


The City Council is expected to approve a contract to delve into city recycling services as fund balances decline and officials come forward with a new proposal to cut the city’s waste to zero.

Resource, recovery and recycling rates, called RRR, have not been formally increased since 2006, and in 2009 it became clear that City Hall needed to take a deeper look at the costs as the fund balance dropped.

That project was put on the backburner until officials came forward with the Zero Waste Strategic Operating Plan, an initiative that will also be discussed Tuesday, which proposes to put zero-waste programs in place.

HDR Engineering was hired to develop the plan, and the firm brought HF&H Consultants to do the financial and cost analysis of the programs.

Officials propose hiring HF&H Consultants to finish the first of three phases of the rate study, which will focus on keeping the RRR program in the black and provide for solid fund reserves.

That contract would cost $67,500.

Phases two and three will identify rate structures and redistribute the cost for collections and street sweeping services over a five-year schedule. Contract costs for those two phases will be requested at a later date.

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