EDITORIAL: Griffith's plight is symptom of larger problem

2013-03-12T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Griffith's plight is symptom of larger problem nwitimes.com
March 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Griffith officials are still looking for the exit, trying to get out from under the cost of supporting Calumet Township.

Legislation to ease Griffith residents' property tax burden is working its way through the Indiana General Assembly.

House Bill 1585 would allow a referendum giving Griffith residents the option of withdrawing from Calumet Township. A two-thirds majority of the votes would be required to do so. Once that separation occurs, Griffith would be free to ask another township to take the town under its wing.

The legislation was passed by the House and is now before the Senate Committee on Local Government.

The legislation addresses a symptom but doesn't treat the larger problem of the unequal distribution of the burden of poor relief.

Calumet Township's township assistance -- poor relief -- property tax rate is more than 15 times the state average. Much of the problem is the concentrated poverty in Gary.

Griffith taxpayers are being crushed by the burden of that Calumet Township poor relief, but withdrawing from the township helps only the Griffith taxpayers, not those remaining in Calumet Township.

A better solution would be to study poor relief costs and practices in Indiana and could up with a better way to fund that service. If costs can be lowered without affecting the quality of the service, that's all the better.

The high cost of services in some townships drove the push to eliminate township government, which has stalled. Even if that's not the solution, there has to be a better way to address poor relief costs than the existing method that puts so much pressure on Griffith.

This issue is ripe for a legislative study committee. Do a thorough study to see what other communities are in a similar situation and whether there's a better way to fund poor relief.

Pulling Griffith out of Calumet Township without addressing the overall problem isn't the answer.

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