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If governor signs bill, Griffith may get its chance to leave Cal Twp.

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Updated: April 18, 2013 7:54PM



INDIANAPOLIS — Changes to the bill that allows Griffith a chance to leave Calumet Township were approved by the House Thursday.

When House Bill 1585 headed to the Senate, the bill was altered to give the township a chance to reduce its poor relief costs to below 12 times the state average. If they can’t reduce their costs in the first year, the state’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board will step in to try.

If the state is unable to reduce the costs to 12 times the state average, Griffith is allowed to begin the process of leaving the township.

The House voted largely on party lines, with Democrats calling the move “bad policy.”

“This is a terrible precedent for Indiana,” said Minority Leader Scott Pelath, Michigan City. “We’re saying as a matter of state policy, you can redraw the line so you can keep the poor people away.”

The bill is designed for one township, said State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, but someday it could affect another township. One community should not be allowed to back out of its contribution to government services.

“How terrible is it that a given township can withdraw from the services that they are receiving and join another,” Brown said, “All of us are donors at one time. I have no children in the school systems, but my taxes go to the school.”

State Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, said he understands the bill targets one community, but it’s been a problem building for years.

“This is not something that came up overnight,” Niemeyer said, “They’ve been trying to take care of the problem, but nothing could be done.”

The bill will head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. A representative of Gov. Mike Pence’s office said they will consider the bill before speaking on whether it will be signed.

“Now we are one signature from the governor away from realizing real and permanent relief for our residents and businesses,” said GriffithTown Councilman Rick Ryfa in an email. “It is a great day for Griffith and a great day for those that believe reforming poor performing sectors of government is needed.”



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