If you have an obsessive fear of bedbugs (like the writer of the popular Madison.gov column), you might have noticed all the gnarly mattresses dumped on street corners and ominously marked with X's.
The mark does not indicate the presence of the terrifying vermin, but the fact that the property owner did not pay a new fee for mattress disposal.
Earlier this year the city signed a contract with Midwest Mattress Recycling to recycle mattresses. The company deconstructs them for the reusable cotton filling, metal springs, wood and foam.
But the city now charges $10 to remove each mattress or box spring, says recycling coordinator George Dreckmann. City workers marked mattresses that didn't have the appropriate stickers with an X. The city sent a letter to property owners who hadn't paid the fee, giving them two weeks to comply. After that, Dreckmann says, all the mattresses are collected, but those who still haven't paid the fee will have the $10, along with a $30 fine, added to the tax bill.
"This is taking everybody by surprise. It got very limited news coverage," he says. "We don't have the money to do a public education campaign."
Dreckmann estimates that around 1,200 mattresses have been put out on curbs during the August move-out period. He expects the city will see about 12,000 over the course of the year.