Griffith residents vote to leave Calumet Township

GRIFFITH, Ind. (WLS) -- The town of Griffith in northwest Indiana voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to secede from Calumet Township.

For years, citizens have claimed they pay more than their fair share of taxes to the township and they hope the move will lower the local tax rate.

"When we started this we were paying $3.2 million to the township. And in return we were getting $11,000 in services," said Rick Ryfa, president of the Griffith Town Council.

Calumet has the highest tax rate in the area -- between 4 and 30 times higher than neighboring townships. Most of the money collected goes to provide services to the poor in the city of Gary, which is contained within it.

"It's not that we don't want to help the poor. The issue is, they were spending a lot more to administrate the poor relief than was actually being given to the poor who needed the services," Ryfa said.

Ninety-seven percent of voters chose to leave Calumet Township.

Michael Ball, the town's Democratic Party chairman, is one of roughly 70 people who voted to stay.

"I didn't think I was over-taxed. I will pay those taxes to help people. I have no problem with that," Ball said. "I would rather pay a little more to help somebody in need."

Griffith's Town Council now has 12 months to petition and get approved to join one of the three neighboring townships. It is a process the town hopes to complete by the end of the year.
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