Vermont regulators approve sale of Burlington Telecom

Published: Feb. 19, 2019 at 5:54 PM EST
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Vermont's Public Utilities Commission has approved the sale of Burlington Telecom to Schurz Communications.

The Burlington City Council approved the deal back in December 2017, going against a group of residents who said the sale should not have been approved. They argue that since the city diverted nearly $17 million to keep Burlington Telecom running, the sale should not be approved.

The company will be owned by Schurz's local affiliate, Champlain Broadband.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington, celebrated the sale, saying he is proud of the new development.

"It definitely feels like a major milestone in this long journey," Weinberger said.

Over the last seven years in office, Weinberger said he has tried to protect taxpayers from further liability. He hoped to get some money back, keep the fiber optic network in place for future generations and protect the city from monopolies.

"With this decision today, I am confident we are going to be able to deliver on all of those goals," Weinberger said.

The mayor said the city will get $6 million. The City Council will have to decide how to spend that money, which could mean investing in Burlington Telecom's new ownership.

That's still short of the $17 million missing, but the mayor said the city's getting money back in other ways.

"Taxpayers have benefited by more than $10 million from the credit rating upgrades that we would not have gotten had we not reached this settlement," Weinberger said.

The mayor said the credit rating could go up even more now that the sale has the final stamp of approval.

Weinberger said there are a lot of protections built into this sale. If there are any future sales, the city can veto them if there is a chance of a monopoly being established. The mayor said Schurz Communications will invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in the city, specifically to STEM initiatives and startups.

The privacy policies and net neutrality commitment are still in place.

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