Griffith asks to join North Township
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Griffith asks to join North Township

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Griffith Town Hall

Griffith Town Hall

GRIFFITH — With time running out to join a new township by year's end, the Town Council on Tuesday requested membership in North Township.

Last week, the council passed a similar resolution asking St. John Township to come aboard.

But with just hours before Tuesday's meeting, the council learned that St. John Township may not be able to make a decision before the end of the year.

"We understand that the St. John Township board has scheduled a special meeting for Dec. 11 to discuss Griffith’s request to join their township," said Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.

Ryfa said he spoke with St. John Township officials earlier in the day.

"(They) indicated that they may not take official action at the Dec. 11 meeting as they want input from their residents just as we received from ours," Ryfa said. "We respect whatever decision they make."

Griffith would like to be accepted by a new township — to secede from Calumet Township — by Dec. 31 so its membership can begin in 2019.

If North Township or St. John Township should approve the town after Dec. 31, Griffith would have to wait until 2020 to join up because of the U.S. Census.

Whichever township accepts Griffith first is the one the town is legally required to join.

"We have 40 days to get something finalized with St. John (Township) or North Township if we want this transfer to take place in 2018," Ryfa said. "Also, Lake County and the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will also play an integral role in facilitating any transfer — and we should give them as much time as possible to do their work. Every day that passes jeopardizes our chances of transferring anywhere."

If neither township agrees to add Griffith to its ranks, the town would be forced to remain in Calumet Township, Ryfa has previously noted.

Ryfa said both North and St. John townships are run very well, while also acknowledging that North Township does offer more services.

"We have thoroughly reviewed the services offered by North Township and the costs associated," Ryfa said. "There is no doubt joining North Township could add to the quality of life for many of our residents."

The benefits would be mutual, he added.

"Our analysis shows that if Griffith transfers to North Township, and the tax rates remain the same in the township, Griffith will add over $500,000 in increased revenue for the township to use for their operations."

The same conditions with St. John Township would add about $70,000 to that township.

Both township boards are comprised of three members who would vote whether to bring Griffith aboard.

"For the resolution to pass, at least two board members must vote yes" during a public meeting, Ryfa noted.

The town won the right to secede from Calumet Township after a September referendum resulted in Griffith voters overwhelmingly choosing to leave.

The referendum was made possible by a state law saying that any community within a township — with a poor relief budget at least 12 times the state average for townships — can choose to leave that township.

However, to successfully leave that township, the community must be accepted by any other adjoining township.

In previous years, Griffith has paid as much as $3.1 million to Calumet Township while receiving only about $15,000 in services.

In 2018, Griffith will pay almost $2 million to Calumet Township — with another $2 million possible next year if the town is still a member.

Joining either St. John Township or North Township would spare Griffith taxpayers that hefty price in the future.

Under earlier calculations, it appeared the property tax rate under St. John Township would be significantly lower than with North Township.

Based on this, Griffith residents favored St. John Township by a 72 percent rate.

However, because of a new capital project bond issue subsequently announced by the Griffith school system, adjusted numbers by the Reedy Financial Group show that the tax bills would be about the same with either of the two prospective townships, Ryfa said.

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