Chris Chyung

State Rep. Chris Chyung, D-Dyer

State Rep. Chris Chyung, D-Dyer, is drafting legislation to let Griffith control its own township services.

The newly elected 15th District House legislator said Thursday afternoon he wants to help Griffith, which seeks to reduce the cost of assistance to impoverished residents by shifting those services away from being administered by the Calumet Township trustee.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa said he hopes to have bills sponsored in both the state House of Representatives and the Senate to let Griffith offer its own township services.

"I talked with Rick a couple of weeks ago to request an LSA (Legislative Service Agency) draft for some legislation that would allow them to carry this through," Chyung said.

Chyung said he has until early January to file such a bill before the General Assembly.

"I'm trying to really cooperate with the Griffith Town Council to make this as smooth a transition as possible. I hope we can all get a solution that will accommodate everyone's views," Chyung said.

Griffith officials sponsored a voter referendum Sept. 25 to move their community away from the tax burden Calumet Township currently imposes on the town's property owners to administer assistance to impoverished Gary residents.

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Indiana is divided into 1,008 townships. Each one pools the taxes generated by township landowners to provide poor assistance to residents living within its cites, towns and unincorporated areas. Gary and most of Griffith are currently within Calumet Township. A small part of Griffith lies within St. John Township.

Voters overwhelmingly cast ballots to leave Calumet Township and apply for a lower tax rate by joining either North Township or St. John Township.

North Township includes East Chicago Hammond, Highland, Munster and Whiting; St. John Township encompasses the towns of Dyer, St. John and Schererville.

The three-member township boards of either North or St. John would have to approve Griffith's admission.

North Township board members said Nov. 26 they intended to close their border to Griffith. Ryfa said he hopes North Township board members reconsider their position after meeting with their constituents.

Ryfa said St. John Township board members, who don't meet until Dec. 11, haven't yet decided whether to put out the welcome mat, or issue Griffith a rejection notice.

Ryfa said if both North and St. John townships say no, legislation to let Griffith become its own township is a possibility. "We are working on drafting templates to get it submitted," Ryfa said.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.