Residents of Talent, Ashland and unincorporated southern Jackson County will be getting fewer bills for trash hauling in the new year.

Residents of Talent, Ashland and unincorporated southern Jackson County will be getting fewer bills for trash hauling in the new year.

Recology, the company that acquired Ashland Sanitary Service in October, will switch to quarterly billing for waste-disposal services in January in a move that's expected to save $24,000.

"By controlling costs, we are hoping to keep the rate increases under control," said Steve DeFabion, Recology general manger. "This is a win-win all the way around."

Recology serves 38 cities and six counties in Northern California and has quarterly billing in all its other locations. Until now, local customers received monthly bills.

Besides the postage savings, the change will save about 56,000 sheets of paper and 56,000 envelopes per year, DeFabion said. Customers also will have options such as online billing, online payment with credit card and automatic withdrawal from checking or savings accounts.

A letter and pamphlet explaining payment options will be mailed to customers within the next week, DiFabion said. He asked customers with questions to call Recology at 541-482-1471 rather than local government offices.

While the bills will be mailed in early January, the payments will not be past due until after March 31, DiFabion said. Rates will remain the same — $16.61 per can per month in the towns and $15.63 outside city limits. On a quarterly basis that comes to $49.83 and $46.89 respectively.

Two other local waste haulers, Rogue Disposal and Southern Oregon Sanitation, bill on a bimonthly basis.

They also have options for electronic payments.

Franchise agreements between Ashland Sanitary and the three government agencies that oversee its service area do not require government approval for a change in billing practices.

DiFabion notified Ashland City Administrator Martha Bennett, Jackson County officials and Talent City Manager Jay Henry of the change.

Henry asked DiFabion to give a presentation to the Talent City Council at its Dec. 16 meeting. After council members expressed concerns that low-income individuals may be unable to pay quarterly, he agreed to include a monthly option in Talent's quarterly statements.

"If we do that for everyone it basically defeats the purpose," he said. "There might be a need for a few people to do this."

A recent unscientific poll of Talent residents visiting the post office indicated most supported the quarterly billing.

"I don't have a problem with that. It would probably be cheaper," said Eric Levin. "I do all my stuff online. The more we can do that way, the better."

"That would be a lot better. It's 44 cents for a stamp," said Jessica Bryan. "That bill every month — what a waste of paper."

"As long as they can save paper and mailing, maybe they can reduce our rates," said Debbie McCuin.

One man said the change is fine with him, but other people will have to get used to it.

"It really won't bother me, but there's a lot of people it will bother," Jim Bergren said. "It's hard on some people, especially those on fixed income that don't have a lot (of money). Once they get into the swing of it they can make do."

One woman who asked not to be identified said she preferred the current method.

"It's definitely easier for me to pay once a month," she said. "It's easier to budget."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.