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The Alden Village Board voted Thursday night to join the ranks of some other county municipalities that are opting out of their contracts with American Ref-Fuel.

The board voted to give the Niagara Falls solid-waste disposal firm the five-year contract termination notice required by its contract.

"We have honored all the increases, but they are not honoring the contract," said Mayor Michael Retzlaff. "We have no choice other than to give notice."

After months of review, the village decided not to break off from the Northeast Southtowns Solid Waste Management Board. Alden is among 14 county municipalities that originally formed the consortium to leverage greater bargaining power for negotiating fees.

Retzlaff said the decision came after American Ref-Fuel refused to reveal information about settlements and fee schedules that Retz-laff said the village is entitled to under terms of the contract.

Alden, along with the consortium, also brought suit against the recycling company to legally contest disputed environmental pass-through fees.

But some of the consortium members, such as the towns of Alden and Cheektowaga, opted to make independent deals with the recycling firm that lowered their dumping fees.

Cheektowaga also settled its claim with American Ref-Fuel out of court, reportedly getting a break on unpaid past fees.

Retzlaff said the company refuses to divulge terms of the settlement, including the new rate structure. He said feels all consortium members should have been offered the same deal.

But Retzlaff believes American Ref-Fuel is deliberately trying to weaken the consortium by making side agreements. He said that hurts the small municipalities most.

"Now that they are trying to break up the consortium -- by cutting deals all over the place -- we have no alternative but to give notice and look for better prices, chemicals," Retzlaff said.

On another matter, the board accepted a $20,000 payment from Tops Markets, which will be held in an escrow account for future construction of sidewalks along Broadway. The payment satisfies one of the stipulations that must be met before the store can open in October.

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