GRIFFITH | The Town Council on Tuesday said relief from the financial drain of Calumet Township might be just two votes away.
The original secession language passed by the Indiana House, which had been removed from HB-1585 by the Senate, was recently restored by state Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek.
After a lengthy Senate debate during a second reading on Tuesday, the bill advanced with the language intact, which means the bill will soon get a full Senate vote.
"The original language went back in because he heard very loudly from Griffith residents about what they were unhappy about," said Griffith Clerk-treasurer George Jerome.
"I believe we've made a strong step not only for the taxpayers in Griffith, but also for good government for all the citizens of Calumet Township," Hershman said in an email Tuesday evening.
"We have a bill in place that will allow Griffith to leave the township" in 2015 if necessary, said Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, the council's vice president. "We've been going on this for six years."
Ryfa said there are probably just two votes remaining for the bill: the full Senate — perhaps as early as Thursday; and the full House.
"If everything goes well, it will probably go to the governor in a week or two," Ryfa added.
If the bill is signed, the township would have until next year to rein in its assistance tax rate. If the township fails, the state would control township spending in 2014.
If both efforts failed to reduce the township's spending to 12 times the state average, Griffith residents would be allowed a 2015 referendum to decide whether to secede from the township.
Ryfa said Hershman "did a fantastic job" debating against a half-dozen amendments proposed against Griffith on Tuesday by state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.
The senate voted against each of the amendments.
In other business, the council swore in Police Lt. Matthew Argadine as executive officer/detective lieutenant. He now is the department's second in command.
Sgt. Jeffrey Gang also was sworn in as the department's new operations lieutenant.
In other appointments, Edwin Markut was named interim park superintendent and Matt Jabkowski is an interim lieutenant with the Fire Department.