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Extra time for Griffith to complete township transfer could win Indiana House approval next week

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved House Bill 1177, providing the town of Griffith an extra year to exit Calumet Township and join either North or St. John townships. The full House could vote on the proposal as soon as Feb. 14.

INDIANAPOLIS — Legislation providing the town of Griffith an extra year to exit Calumet Township, by joining either North or St. John townships, is headed to the full House.

On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee made no changes prior to approving House Bill 1177, which now could be voted on by the House as soon as Feb. 14 to advance the proposal to the Senate.

The House's budget-writing committee was required to review the measure due to non-Griffith township finance matters that also are included in the proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Cindy Ziemke, R-Batesville.

Under the plan, which previously was endorsed by the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, Griffith would have two years, until November 2020, to transfer townships, instead of the one-year requirement in current law.

Griffith citizens last year voted to secede from Calumet Township, due in part to the township's highest-in-the-state poor relief property tax rate; the revenue from which mostly is paid by, but not spent on, Griffith residents.

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However, the statute authorizing the secession process also could force Griffith to remain in Calumet Township if it is unsuccessful at joining a neighboring township.

So far, both North and St. John townships have shown little interest in absorbing Griffith.

Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa said he hopes the extra time provided by the legislation will encourage North and St. John township officials to rethink their refusals.

If not, the additional year also would give the 2020 General Assembly an opportunity to fashion another remedy for Griffith, such as permitting the town to become its own township and be independent of Calumet, North and St. John townships.

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