STOCK_Griffith Town Hall

Griffith Town Hall

GRIFFITH — Residents will soon get their chance to weigh in on Griffith's second request to join St. John Township.

The Griffith Town Council will make a presentation to the township board at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Center's main meeting room, 1515 W. Lincoln Highway in Schererville.

Last month, Griffith sent requests to both St. John and North townships asking to revisit the requests for membership made late last year.

"We stated we would be happy to meet with each township to present the most current data," said Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.

Ryfa said Griffith's financial advisers will be at the meeting to answer any questions and members of its legal team will be on standby if any other questions come up.

St. John Township Assessor Debbie Walters will also be on hand to offer her comments, said St. John Township Trustee Cathy Lareau.

"Public comments will be accepted the night of the meeting, but the public will also be able to call the St. John Township trustee's office, 219-865-2705, to voice their opinion," Lareau added.

Griffith asked St. John Township to accept it as a member last November, but was rejected in December.

Soon afterward, North Township also declined Griffith's request.

The Indiana General Assembly has given Griffith until November 2020 to get one of the townships to change its mind.

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By bringing Griffith aboard, St. John Township would get an extra $70,000 in revenue per year.

North Township would gain about $510,728 with Griffith as a member.

"We feel Griffith would be an asset to any township that would decide to accept us," Ryfa said, because the 2020 property tax circuit breaker will reduce tax revenue for many Lake County communities and Griffith could replenish some of it.

Ryfa added Griffith is financially sound going into next year's circuit breaker and that property tax rates will be reduced for the fifth time in the last six years.

"And our assessed valuation on all properties increased by over 8%," which is more than double the state average.

In case neither township has a change of heart, Griffith is crafting a new bill for the state legislature to consider that would let Griffith provide its own township services without belonging to one.

The community has been seeking a split from Calumet Township for over a decade because its taxpayers are forced to pay over $2.2 million per year, while receiving only about $30,000 worth of services in return.

In some years, Griffith has paid over $3 million to Calumet Township.

When the township's budget exceeded a limit set by the state a few years ago, it gave Griffith the right to begin secession efforts.

A Griffith residential referendum overwhelmingly confirmed the town's desire to leave Calumet Township.

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