Griffith stock

GRIFFITH – The Town Council on Tuesday officially asked St. John Township to admit Griffith as a new member.

A similar resolution, for North Township, was temporarily put on hold.

Prior to the vote, residents got some new information as officials from both townships — and Reedy Financial Group — attended the meeting.

According to Reedy, the estimated 2019 property tax rate for Griffith in Calumet Township would be $3.37 per $100 of assessed valuation.

But if Griffith moves to St. John Township next year, the rate would drop to $3.04; or $3.10 if it joined North Township.

When the property tax circuit breaker comes in 2020, the Calumet Township rate would be $3.34; St. John would be $3.02; and North Township would be $3.08.

Because of a new capital project bond issue recently announced by the school system, "it will make no difference on those property tax bills if we join North or St. John township," Town Council President Rick Ryfa noted. "Essentially, it becomes a decision of which services better suit our residents as tax bills will be the same."

The latest numbers show that 72 percent of Griffith respondents prefer St. John; 26 percent like North Township and 2 percent have no preference.

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As for the services each township can offer, Doug Walker, attorney for North Township, said they do have the popular Dial A Ride program that offers free transportation to those in need.

"(But) we don't want to oversell our services because this is a decision for Griffith taxpayers to make," he said.

St. John Township Trustee Jean Shepherd, who is retiring at the end of this year, said her township does not have as many programs as North Township, although it does offer free bus rides to and from its nutrition center.

As for whether the township would accept Griffith, Shepherd said "the board didn’t give any opinion. They will wait until they are approached."

If both townships reject Griffith's offer, the town will ask to have a new state law passed that would allow any community — which has done a referendum, but was denied entry to adjoining townships — to provide its own township services, Ryfa said.

"I spoke to state Senator Rick Niemeyer (earlier) this evening and he stated that he would be open to this discussion," Ryfa said.

"That is a backup plan," Ryfa noted. "It's not something we want to do."

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