GRIFFITH — North Township followed St. John Township's lead on Tuesday by voting to decline Griffith's request for membership.
St. John Township voted no earlier this month.
"I got a phone call from (Trustee) Frank Mrvan" that the vote was 3-0, said Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. "That pretty much kills it for now."
Griffith has been placed between a rock and a hard place with both townships officially turning it down.
There is no choice for Griffith but to stay with Calumet Township — unless Griffith can get a new state law allowing it to provide its own poor relief.
"That leaves us no choice but to seek legislation" for this, Ryfa said.
Ryfa added that he has been talking with newly elected state Rep. Chris Chyung, D-Dyer, who will submit language for an appropriate bill on Jan. 10 to the State Assembly.
Ryfa said the town will be putting a plan together to show how it would provide its own poor relief services — hopefully without having to become its own township, which would add another layer of government.
Receiving private donations, instead of using tax money, would be a powerful way to present the plan to the General Assembly, Ryfa said.
In 2015, Griffith paid about $1.2 million to Calumet Township and received $53,293.10 back in services received.
This year, Griffith is paying $2.2 million to the township and will receive $31,323.54 in services.
Ryfa added that Griffith received only $20,756.11 in services from Calumet Township last year and compared that to the $25,000 annual salary that each member of the three-seat township board receives.
"Each and every board member received more in salary that what was distributed to all of Griffith in 2017," he noted.
The estimated amount of services in 2019 — if Griffith remains part of the township — is not yet available, but the township tax levy is expected to be $2.4 million.
"Something is wrong with this (township) form of government, and something needs to be done about it," Ryfa said of Griffith's township tax bill doubling over just five years.
With the income tax cap circuit breaker set to begin in 2020, North Township's budget is expected to be cut by $800,000 to $1.2 million, Ryfa said.
If North Township had accepted Griffith as a member, it would have received about $525,000 from the town, minus whatever services Griffith would have required.
"They're going to have to answer to their taxpayers" because a lot of the lost revenue would have been made up by Griffith's membership, Ryfa said.
Similarly, Griffith would have paid St. John Township about $73,000 per year as a member.
While both townships have said no to bringing Griffith aboard, they still have just under one year to reconsider and potentially take another vote.
"Thanks, guys, for trying," former Griffith police officer and current Griffith School Board member Don McCarter said.
Several other residents joined McCarter in praising the council for its efforts.
"We're not through yet," Ryfa replied, while urging Griffith taxpayers to contact the state legislature.
"It makes a difference when they hear from residents."