Council to vote Monday on Burlington Telecom winning bid

Published: Oct. 30, 2017 at 12:29 PM EDT
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The showdown over Burlington Telecom is center stage tonight. City councilors are voting on who gets to buy BT. There are two choices, but sources tell WCAX the council is deadlocked.

Two competing bids that look vastly different on paper. Some of the highlights: Ting is growing telecom company out of Toronto and is offering about $30 million and a full buildout of the fiber system in Burlington. Keep BT Local, a co-op of Burlington residents, is offering about $12 million, but the city would keep a share in the company and could maintain some control -- and potentially reap some profits -- into the future.

Multiple sources tell WCAX the 12 councilors are evenly split, with six supporting Ting and six supporting KBTL.

Money is a factor, but so is a vision for the city. Some supporting the local co-op say they just don't want to sell a city asset to a private corporation. They say It feels like giving something valuable away for a quick buck when in the long run the city could end up making more money.

Those supporting Ting say they money now makes a difference. They point to the cobbled together financing in the co-op's bid, and the fact that the city is trying to recover millions lost in the BT financial scandal. The city also owes Citbank millions. A settlement several years ago says Citibank gets half of the proceeds of the sale.

A lawyer for the bank upped the stakes for tonight. In an email to the city they called the co-op 's offer "not even remotely commercially reasonable," and said that choosing KBTL "will be vigorously opposed by Citibank on several fronts including but not limited to immediate litigation."

The mayor supports the Ting bid. He does not get a vote tonight, so he cannot break the tie. In a statement he said, "Delay, or selecting the well-intentioned but very weak KBTL offer, exposes the City to serious legal and financial risk."

It is not exactly clear what happens if there is no winner tonight. Priscilla Liguori will have the latest details tonight at 11.