The City of Madison may be expanding its composting programs with the inclusion of curbside compost pickup in its operating budget.

City officials are looking to include a curbside composting program in the city’s operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said. The program was one of the most popular ideas posted to the city’s new website, IdeaScale, designed to generate community input on things like the budget, he said.

IdeaScale allows voting to occur online regarding ideas for the city that council members can view, Resnick said. He said the public is allowed to submit ideas, and they saw a robust number ideas, everything from the possible, such as better access to affordable housing and curbside composting, to the impossible, including putting a go Kart racing track around Capitol Square.

Curbside composting would operate similar to the city’s recycling system, as a pickup of organic compostable material from city workers, Resnick said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said a pilot program for curbside composting is currently taking place in the city’s sixth and seventh districts. He said the city is looking to expand that pilot program and the Board of Estimates, the city’s financial committee, approved an amendment a few weeks ago to add additional routes and households on the city’s east and west sides.

Verveer said composting allows the city to keep material out of landfills, which saves money and landfill costs and avoids the need for further expansion of landfills. Veveer said Madison currently uses Dane County’s landfill, and the county is about to embark on expansion of that landfill because it is getting so full.

Veveer said the program could also make composting easier for city residents, particularly because many residents do their composting on their own, which can often attract rodents. He said this residential program makes it so much easier for residents to participate because they can work with the city.

“The only downside is the startup costs of the programs,” Verveer said.

Veveer said the program has proven to be popular among residents in the participating districts, and other people demonstrated interests in using additional city funds to implement the program in other districts. He said he expects the strong trend of recycling in the city could continue with composting. Madison has an excellent track record with its recycling program with a high number of volunteers and participants, he said.

“Recycling is pretty much a voluntary endeavor, and I’m happy to report that our program is very strong,” Verveer said.

Verveer added within the last year, pots, pans and consumer batteries have been added to the list of material that the city is able to recycle with its current program.

Many Madison households report their recycling containers fill up faster than their trash containers, Verveer added.

The expansion will take place in July 2014 with a budget of about $42,000, Verveer said. While the expansion of the pilot program will still not make curbside composting a city wide program, he said it will add a few thousand more households and be aimed at restaurants and apartments as well.