LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Residents in La Crosse and Onalaska can start bracing for a change in how their trash is collected.

Both communities are on the verge of changing over to an automated cart system. Residents would be able to choose between three different cart sizes and then have one for trash and the other for recyclables. They would not be charged for the carts.

Dale Hexom, the director of public works for La Crosse, says the proposed system will be more efficient and help make the city cleaner.

"It has the potential of improving the cleanliness of neighborhoods because now you have uniformity in containers. They're going to look basically the same," said Hexom.

The carts would come in sizes of 95, 65 or 35 gallons.

The new contracts proposed for both La Crosse and Onalaska, however, would no longer cover pick-up for large items like appliances. Residents would have to schedule and pay for that separately.

La Crosse's proposed contract would also no longer cover yard waste pick-up for residents. That would cost between $8 and $20 depending on how and how often a resident wants their yard waste collected.

"It's a big adjustment," said Gary Harter, owner of Harter's Quick Clean-Up.

The company was the low bidder for both the La Crosse and Onalaska contracts. Onalaska's city council approved the 7-year deal Tuesday night. La Crosse's city council is expected to take up the contract some time in May.

"It will be a lot more efficient than what the old system is," said Harter.

The company will have to purchase four or five new trucks to accommodate the automated cart system.

"It's really exciting, especially getting more advanced trucks. We're going to be moving into the 21st century for picking up trash," he added.

The changeover will also include a switch to single-stream recycling which will greatly increase the number of items people can recycle in both communities.

"As we recycle more, we pay less tipping fees at the landfill or at the Xcel RDF plant. For every ton we save in recycling, we save $59," explained Hexom.

The changes would then likely go into place early next year.