Officials: Plant closing would hurt city
The plant closing would mean the loss of 110 jobs in the city.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- Council members said Tuesday that a possible plant closing will likely be another blow to the city's economy and government.
Sekely Industries last week wrote the city that it is considering permanently closing its tool and die operation.
In the letter to the city, company Vice President Richard J. Sekely Jr. said: "While the closure is likely the only option, Sekely management will immediately inform you if circumstances change. If the final decision is made to close this facility, the closure likely will be total and permanent."
Sekely's letter said that not all 110 employees would be let go at one time in order to complete all of its orders.
Councilman Greg Oesch said there has been a domino effect of one loss following another.
Councilman Steve Andres said, "The city will be in financial straights."
He pointed out that since 2004, Eljer Plumbingware closed with a loss of about 250 jobs, and Crane-Deming Pumps Inc. closed with a loss of about 120 jobs.
"You can't replace the jobs. Not in this county," Andres said.
Manufacturing jobs, once the bread and butter of the local economy, are becoming scarce in the city, council members said.
Sekely's announcement may also affect council's plans. At the meeting, council gave second reading to an ordinance that would alter city spending. Income tax receipts are now divided with 80 percent used for operating costs and 20 percent going to capital improvement projects.
The new ordinance would increase the capital improvement funding to 25 percent in order to catch up with backlogged projects. City officials said revenue in recent years has been flat.
The ordinance is to be given its third and final reading at council's next meeting Jan. 16. Council members said they may not go through with the change if operating revenue is going to be tight.
In other developments, Republican Mayor Larry DeJane confirmed that he will not seek a fourth term next year. A number of officials from both parties have said they will run for the post.
Republican Auditor James Armeni will seek a third term. He has modernized operations in his office and helped get city workers involved in health care and paying a part of health-care costs.