Vestas Blades announcement that it is laying off 280 at its Brighton plant has City Councilors wanting to go over city records to make sure that the company is keeping up with deals it made.
“There were records that show how many Brighton residents that they need to keep employed at that facility,” City Councilor Matt Johnston said. “I want to make sure they are sticking to that.”
Danish-based manufacturer Vestas-American Wind Technology announced in February that it plans to consolidate its footprint in Colorado, combining operations in Windsor, Pueblo and Brighton. The consolidation means that the company will cease making blades for the company’s towering windmills at the East Crown Prince Boulevard location, laying off 280 workers. The company will also cut employees at its Pueblo towers factory and Brighton nacelles factories by a total of approximately 170 colleagues.
Plans call for using the remaining Brighton facility to maintain installed Vestas wind generating machines around the country.
Brighton Economic Development Director Michael Martinez said there is no requirement that the company hire a certain number of Brighton residents written into the city’s development agreement with the company.
“There is only mention that Vestas will make the attempt to hire Brighton residents,” Martinez said. “As you can imagine, over the past 11 years they will say they have met and made an attempt. The only number that is only solid in any agreement is that 900 employees must be maintained at the Brighton facilities.”
Johnston said that was frustrating and challenged his colleagues to make sure they do not approve contracts and deals like that.
“I think it’s important anyone listening to this meeting to know that we would not allow that to happen with current businesses,” Johnston said. “So, let’s do better in the future.”
Councilors Clint Blackhurst said he wants the company to show how many Brighton residents they hired.
“And I would like to ask them what they are doing,” Blackhurst said. “I know plenty of people that work there, or have worked there and they were never asked where they lived. So I’d like to find out just what they’ve done.”
Blackhurst also wondered what the impact of the sale would be on city finances. The company paid sales tax to the city for each blade it sold and Blackhurst asked for a report on the taxes they paid.
“We entered into what I think is a sweetheart deal with Vestas because we rebate part of those sales taxes,” Blackhurst said. “We’ve given them a lot. I guess that’s my point.”
Councilor Mark Humbert said he is very disappointed in the company’s decision.
“There were more than $8 million in concessions made to bring that here, from the city, from the state and even from United Power,” Humbert said.
He doubted Brighton would realize much tax revenue from the revamped operation.
“The tooling is not going to bring us any sales tax, since it’s just maintenance,” he said. “So we are losing a lot here.”