Taxpayers appeal sale of Burlington Telecom

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A group of taxpayers is appealing the sale of Burlington Telecom.

Earlier this month, Vermont's Public Utilities Commission gave the final stamp of approval on selling the city-owned fiber-optic network to Indiana-based company Schurz Communications.

Now, six Burlingtonians argue that deal is illegal and they want their day in court.

The group says Vermont law requires Burlington Telecom reimburse the nearly $17 million it borrowed from taxpayers.

According to their attorney, once BT's assets are sold to Schurz Communications, Schurz legally won't have to pay back that money.

The BT subscribers also say keeping the company up and running as is is crucial to the future of Burlington's economy.

"Telecom as a whole is critically important to people, far more important than ever before and will probably be even more important in the future. And so for it to be a utility that is publicly owned and not monopolized by any individual company or partisan notion is critically important to us," said Dean Corren, a Burlington Telecom subscriber.

Mayor Miro Weinberger responded to the appeal in a statement, "The interveners are not folk heroes, and they are not fighting to get your tax dollars back. The announced appellants are misguided obstructionists who, if they got their way, would return us to the community nightmare of the Leopold-BT years."

Weinberger says his administration still believes the sale is the city's best option and will continue to fight for the deal.

The six taxpayers now have 21 days to file the appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court.