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If it's true that necessity is the mother of invention, then, in Erie County, she has given birth to a good example of how local governments can jump past their geographic boundaries and join with other governments in cooperative ventures.

Deeply dissatisfied by their garbage-disposal contracts, a group of 14 towns and villages banded together some months ago in the correct belief that they carried more clout battling together than they would separately.

Still dissatisfied, the towns of West Seneca, Cheektowaga and Lancaster are now in the process of filing similar lawsuits against American Ref-Fuel Corp. whose waste-to-energy plant in Niagara Falls is the destination of their garbage. They want refunds for what they believe are overcharges by American Ref-Fuel and an end to their long-term contracts with the company. The smaller towns and villages in the group may also sue on the same grounds for the same relief.

Without judging the right or wrong of the lawsuit, it's possible to see that by their common action, these local governments gain strength. Together, they have taken garbage-disposal bids to size up alternatives to their American Ref-Fuel contracts. They say the bids produced cheaper alternatives. The greater garbage volume they could offer as a group helped get lower prices, for one thing.

However their lawsuit comes out, the unified venture demonstrates regionalism in action. Surely there are other cooperative ventures that can follow, ventures that will save taxpayer money and/or produce better results than a lone hand would produce.

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