Time has come to leave Calumet Twp., Griffith says

2013-03-05T21:12:00Z 2013-03-06T14:37:04Z Time has come to leave Calumet Twp., Griffith saysCHARLES HABER Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 05, 2013 9:12 pm  • 

GRIFFITH | As the fight to leave Calumet Township moves to the Indiana Senate, the Griffith Town Council says it will take some effort to push it from a Senate committee to the full floor for a vote.

"We're going to have our work cut out for us in the Senate," said Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.

He said the township will again claim it needs more time to satisfy complaints voiced by the town.

"I think the time has come when they shouldn't get any more time," Ryfa said.

A committee hearing was originally set for Wednesday but was postponed because Tuesday's snowstorm interfered with travel to Indianapolis, Ryfa said.

Clerk-Treasurer George Jerome said he hopes the hearing will be rescheduled for next week.

Jerome added that legislators who support the township have been able to create confusion in the General Assembly every year to kill any bill designed to help Griffith.

"All the township has to do each year is promise to get better next year," Jerome said. "We need a legislative solution."

As an example of the council's claim of waste by the township board, Council President Glen Gaby, R-1st, noted that the state required the township to trim its budget by $5 million this year.

In doing so, Gaby said, the township trimmed only about $5,500 from its own administrative costs and cut the remaining $4.7 million directly from poor relief.

Ryfa referred to a 2011 report on the township by the State Board of Accounts.

"It was a fairly scathing report," he said.

The report noted the township owns nine take-home vehicles. Some of the call logs claimed mileage for days not worked, including Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.

Ryfa said the report also shows the township's financial consultant was paid an extra $18,500 for work already covered by his $60,000 salary.

The report also states that Township Trustee Mary Elgin was advanced travel money on a per diem basis. But in 2008 and 2009 she also charged the township credit card $181.31 and $128.59 for meals after meetings in Indianapolis, Ryfa said.

If the bill survives the Senate committee and passes the full Senate, it would pave the way for reconciliation with the Indiana House, which previously passed it. It then would go to the governor for possible approval, board members said.

Griffith residents then would be given the opportunity to vote on whether to leave the township and join another one.

In other business, Police Chief Greg Mance said numerous residents have asked if people going door to door on behalf of NIPSCO are legitimate.

Mance said they are legitimate as long as they have ID badges because NIPSCO is asking to assess the energy consumption of individual customers under the Energizing Indiana program.

Mance noted that any solicitor without proper identification should be reported to police for investigation.

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