11/6/14 Email: Proposed budget investment: health and sustainability

 

Dear Friend,
  
Last month I shared details with you about my proposed budget investments in growth. The growth of our city is crucial to our successful future – and it cannot be said enough that inclusive growth will lead the way to maximizing prosperity for everyone.
   
Our potential for growth includes investments in health and sustainability. But deliberate and intentional investments in health and sustainability also allow us to move the dial on my other two goals of running the city well and advancing equity. My budget delivers on all three of these goals – this week I’d like to share with you a bit about our investments in health and sustainability.
 
Healthy start
 
As we work to address inequities, we must also focus on how to prevent equities before they even start. Basic health in the first year of life has been shown to be crucial for success later in life. Our Healthy Start program works with pregnant women and babies to make sure children and families are getting what they need to thrive. My budget continues to support the funding for Healthy Start. The work this program does is critical to my Cradle to K Initiative and my Cabinet, which has identified the goal of all children receiving a Healthy Start as one of the three main areas it is focusing on. A healthy start rich with early experiences will help prepare children for successful early education and literacy.  
 
Lead poisoning
 
Equity also depends on a healthy physical space for children. In Minneapolis today, 87% of lead-poisoned children are children of color. While lead is toxic to everyone, babies and young children are at the greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning – everything from headaches and stomach pain, to behavioral problems and brain development. This exposure can have deep, lasting impacts for life outcomes. We need to ensure residential homes are safe from lead hazards by conducting inspections for children with diagnosed lead poisoning. Because of new federal and state directives on childhood lead poisoning, the city has a backlog of inspections. To address this backlog, I have proposed investing an additional $110,000 in 2015 to ensure all children have a healthy place to call home.  
 
Health inspectors
 
As our city continues to grow, we need to ensure we are keeping the public safe, while not putting unnecessary burdens on entrepreneurs. My budget invests new money in health inspectors targeted to small businesses, both the burgeoning specialty restaurant sector and immigrant- and minority-owned restaurants. These new positions will help keep pace with the growth in our food sector, while providing a higher level of service and easing the regulatory path for entrepreneurs who want to open a restaurant.   
 
Clean energy partnership
  
Last month we reached a first-of-its-kind City-utility Clean Energy Partnership as part of our franchise negotiations with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. This is a major success and provides clear steps forward on sustainability and equity. This agreement is a shared commitment with the two utilities to collaborate in new ways to help Minneapolis achieve its energy goals. These goals include making energy affordable and reliable for everyone while increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reducing greenhouse gases.
My budget provides investments in the City Coordinator’s office to begin the process of implementing the City’s portion of this new clean energy agreement. This is an opportunity for our city which is becoming a model for others in the country. Planning for the future of our environment is a crucial part of running the city well, and I look forward to continued progress on this front.  
 
Zero Waste Minneapolis
 
Planning for the future includes taking continued steps to a Zero Waste Minneapolis. My budget takes the next leap forward on this effort through curbside organics recycling. This is something we have heard overwhelmingly that residents want, and we’ve seen the success of it through the various drop-off sites already operating in some neighborhoods.
 
My budget includes approximately $5.3 million in initial capital for one-time start-up costs for items like trucks and carts. The 2015 budget also includes about $2.5-3 million in operating costs for part-year operations. Once these operating costs are annualized, they will be about $4.4 million a year ongoing for the curbside organics program. 
 
Your individual monthly recycling rates will increase in 2015 by about $4.00. Roughly $3.50 of that is due to organics, and the rest is natural inflation for solid waste operations. This program has a city-wide benefit. Right now about one-third of the waste stream of Minneapolis residents is organic material – things like food scraps, paper towels, and compostable food containers. Instead of treating this material as just waste to be burned, let’s invest in the education and tools to help residents turn their waste into a resource.   
 
While much of our investment in curbside organics will go toward paying for the infrastructure needed to put the program in place, we will also invest in resources, education, and outreach to help residents better use both curbside organics and one-sort recycling. The success of these programs depend on the ease of use for residents, and there are many lessons learned from the neighborhoods that have participated in the curbside organics pilots and drop-off locations. 
 
Something in it for all of us
 
Our investments in health and sustainability allow us to move the dial on our growth, running the city well, and equity. Ensuring our young people have a healthy foundation for their lives is critical to addressing disparities. And as we think about the growth of our city into the future, we must find ways to grow our population without growing our impact on our environment.
 
In coming weeks, I’ll share more about my investments in running the city well and equity. You are also invited to attend the community forum on the budget I’m co-hosting with Council Members John Quincy, Elizabeth Glidden, and Linea Palmisano. The meeting is Wednesday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Mayflower Church, 106 E. Diamond Lake Road. 
 
You can learn more about the budget process, including dates for council hearings, by clicking here. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Mayor Betsy Hodges
City of Minneapolis

Last updated Nov 17, 2014

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