GRIFFITH — While the Town Council still hopes to be in North Township by year's end, it will also request a new state law to provide its own poor relief if membership is denied.
"Griffith continues to lobby North Township for acceptance," Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said Tuesday evening. "We are concurrently working to meet a Dec. 10 deadline imposed on the legislators for submitting documentation to Legislative Services Agency in order for any bill to be drafted."
At the invitation of the North Township Board, Griffith officials met with them Tuesday afternoon, hours before the council's business meeting.
"The meeting was productive," Ryfa said. "We were presented with some very good questions regarding the full ramifications of Griffith transferring into North Township. We will work very hard in the next few days to provide additional information."
Some of that information was provided during the meeting, via conference call, by Matthew Parkinson, deputy commissioner and chief of staff for the Department of Local Government Finance.
North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan, who attended the earlier meeting, could not be reached for comment by press time.
While both North and St. John townships have one year to accept or reject Griffith's request, Griffith would prefer to join by the end of this year.
When resident Katheryn Kepchar asked if membership is still possible by the end of the year, Ryfa replied, "It could be done."
If the town is accepted by one of the townships after Dec. 31, Griffith would not be able to join until 2020 because state law prohibits a switch in townships in a year prior to a census year.
Membership in St. John Township is still possible, but they have stated that a decision is unlikely before year's end because public input is needed.
This year, Griffith is paying about $2.2 million to Calumet Township and another year with them would result in another $2.2 million, Ryfa noted.
In earlier years, Griffith paid as much as $3.1 million to Calumet Township while receiving only about $15,000 in services.
North Township stands to receive about $525,000 from Griffith if it brings them aboard, Ryfa noted.
Similarly, Griffith would pay St. John Township about $73,000 per year as a member.
But with prospective membership in either township uncertain, the council would like to provide its own assistance as a town — or as a single community township.
"We prefer to not add that layer of government if we have other alternatives," Ryfa said of forming a township.
If such a law is not enacted — and both townships reject Griffith's request — Griffith would be forced to remain in Calumet Township.
Both township boards are comprised of three members who would vote, during a public meeting, whether or not to bring Griffith aboard.