Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is trying to build support for the most expensive new initiative in her first budget proposal: a recycling program for the city's food waste.
Hodges wants the organic material turned into compost rather than going into landfills or the garbage-burning power plant in downtown Minneapolis.
The program, which would cost $8 million to launch next year, would be available to all city residents living in buildings with four units or fewer. Under the proposal, the city's recycling fees would increase more than 20 percent — nearly $50 a year per household. Most of the fee increase would go toward the composting program.
Hodges said all recycling customers would pay for the service.
"Probably the most important piece is this has citywide benefits," she said. "Everybody is going to benefit from this program regardless of if they participate or not. It's also true for recycling — benefiting in terms of city operations, but also benefiting in terms of the health of our community short term and long term."
At a news conference Wednesday, Hodges acknowledged that composting programs have historically appealed most to upper-income white residents.
"But it's our job to make sure we're doing the education, and we're doing the policy work, and we're doing the outreach in communities -- both with community organizations and as a city -- to let folks know that this is a great option for them citywide," the mayor said.