Tax proposal viewed as BT/Kiss referendum - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Tax proposal viewed as BT/Kiss referendum

Kurt Wright Kurt Wright

Burlington, Vermont - January 30, 2011

The questions continue surrounding the financially troubled Burlington Telecom.  But the answers are not coming and the scandal could have political as well as legal repercussions.

"What this discussion is not is what has gone on in the past.  It is only about Burlington Telecom today and tomorrow," said City Council President Bill Keogh at This week's public hearing regarding BT. 

Keogh guided the conversation away from an ongoing criminal investigation into BT's finances. Those in the know are saying little about the past or the future of the troubled utility, or the nearly 17-million dollars that the public service department says the Kiss administration illegally took to cover BT's operating expenses.

But at the hearing, Mayor Kiss promised that BT will not shut down. "On their part, City Capital has agreed they will not do anything precipitous, and certainly our expectations are that BT services will continue without any serious threat or concern regarding quality, performance or reliability," he said.

The problem is that not enough information has been made public to evaluate the mayor's promise to keep BT operating. That would require a private investor with deep pockets. Meanwhile, the BT fiasco could turn a city tax rate increase on the March city ballot into a loss.

"I predict that that tax increase will be defeated, and perhaps largely as a result of a no-confidence feeling by the public in regards to the Kiss administration and their handling of Burlington Telecom," said Council Member Kurt Wright.

Still, it could be premature to write off the mayor's political future at this point. Kiss has one more year left in his three-year term of office in which he might be able to reverse BT's declining prospects.

Andy Potter - WCAX News


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