Burlington Telecom sale now complete

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The sale of Burlington Telecom is now complete, ending a saga that put the city's finances in peril and divided residents over who should own the cable and internet provider.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that the company, now known as Champlain Broadband, is now a local affiliate of Schurz Communications.

When it was launched 14 years ago, Burlington Telecom was owned by the city and meant to compete with big corporations like Comcast. But BT was immediately in debt, unable to pay its major creditor, CitiBank, and propped up with $17 million from taxpayers.

When Weinberger took office, he devised a plan to rescue the company but it meant giving up public ownership.

"Today's completion of all of the steps in that settlement agreement and transfer to a stable well-capitalized company in Schurz Communications, that has been in existence for more than 100 years, ensures that the continued operation of fiber to the home benefits for business and Burlingtonians will continue for the foreseeable future," said Weinberger, D-Burlington.

The sale to Schurz closes the books on the $33 million Burlington owed to CitiBank and pays back almost $7 million of the $17 million improperly borrowed from taxpayers.

Not everyone is celebrating. Many residents are sorry to lose public ownership. Others believe the city should have gone with local investors instead of an out-of-state corporation.