Griffith bill changes shot down by state senate
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org April 2, 2013 4:10PM
A welcome to Griffith sign greets travelers at the intersection of Avenue H and Broad Street at a southern entrance to Griffith, Ind. Tuesday April 2, 2013. | Stephanie Dowell~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2013 9:13PM
INDIANAPOLIS — State Sen. Earline Rogers of Gary offered six amendments to try to give Calumet Township more flexibility and time to cut costs, but House Bill 1585 remains largely unchanged from its current condition.
Since it left the House, the Griffith secession bill has been changed to require Calumet Township to cut its administrative costs in 2013 to under 12 times the state average.
The House bill would allow a municipality to secede from its township and join a neighboring township if its poor relief funds were over 15 times the state average. Senate committees reduced the amount, and also added giving of a year for the township to reduce costs. If it can’t, the state distressed unit appeals board would step in.
If both moves still cannot lower costs, a town can then start the process to secede from the township.
Calumet Township’s spending on poor relief is at 22 times the state’s average.
Rogers asked for changes to the bill, from removing the ability to secede, to allowing one extra year to reduce costs.
Each amendment was voted down. Even an amendment that would protect the township’s homeless shelter from being closed was denied, though the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said he was willing to work on legislative actions in the future to protect the shelter.
State Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, said the township could see more relaxed requirements if it makes strong attempts to cut administrative spending.
“If we see good faith effort from the township,” Holdman said, “we could back off on some of these requirements when we come back.”
The tight time line will leave very few options for Calumet Township, said State Sen. Lindel Hume, D- Princeton.
“I agree that if they try, we can look at this again, but let’s give them more time,” Hume said. “You set a date of 2013, this is 2013. We set them up to fail.”
Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3, said he and other town administrators feel very good about the bill’s chances of passing, and they’re looking forward to a vote soon.
“This is a big, big success for good government,” Ryfa said. “We’ve asked for several years for the township to reform its practices, and obviously, it hasn’t done so. So now, they’ll be forced to.”
Correspondent Michelle L. Quinn contributed to this story.