Weinberger favors out-of-state bidders for Burlington Telecom

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington's mayor is not interested in keeping Burlington Telecom local. He says he'd like to see one of two out-of-state bidders buy the city-owned cable and internet company instead of the co-op of residents called Keep BT Local. The mayor prefers either Ting/Tucows, which is offering $27.5 million, or Schurz Communication, which is offering $30.8 million.

Keep BT Local is offering $12 million but the city would retain partial ownership. The mayor says going with the local co-op could expose the city to lawsuits from taxpayers or Citibank, which is waiting for payment from BT after years of financial woes.

"If we don't forward both of them on Monday, we are not going to get the best possible outcome for the people of Burlington," said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

Weinberger does not get to choose, though. The City Council does.

Council President Jane Knodell tells us that just selling to the highest bidder now may not be best for the city in the long run. She believes options allowing the city to retain an ownership stake could get the most return on investment in the long run. Knodell says she doesn't think any of the bids right now has enough support to get the seven votes needed to continue in the process.

The Council will vote on which two bidders will be finalists at its meeting Monday night.