The city of Burlington says it has finalized the sale of Burlington Telecom to Schurz Communications and will recoup about $7 million in ltaxpayer funds improperly spent by the city years ago.
The closing also puts an end to Citibank’s $33.5 million lawsuit against Burlington Telecom, filed in 2011, for failing to make good on its lease agreement with the bank.
At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Miro Weinberger said the developments resolve a financial crisis that dates back to 2009, when the unauthorized use of $17 million in city money was first discovered.
“After years of work, today we have made good on all of the goals that we set out to achieve at the beginning of this process,” Weinberger said. “That includes restoring the City of Burlington’s financial health, recovering as much of the lost taxpayer funds as possible, and ensuring that Burlingtonians continue to benefit from high-speed fiber optic internet.”
The deal includes several regulations intended to protect the public, including a commitment not to increase broadband prices for 60 months. The city also has the right to block a future sale to a telecommunications monopoly.
Schurz Communications’ President and CEO Todd Schurz released a statement after the sale was finalized.
“We are committed to fulfilling the potential for Burlington Telecom moving forward, and this addition to our portfolio is consistent with Schurz’ mission of building partnerships that help solve problems,” Schurz said. “We appreciate the Vermont Public Utility Commission’s approval of the transaction and look forward to partnering with the City of Burlington.”
BT Intervenors, a group of Burlington residents opposed to the sale, said last month that they will appeal the PUC’s ruling in the Vermont Supreme Court. Weinberger said he’s not concerned.
“I know there’s talk of an appeal, the parties involved moved forward because there was confidence in the PUC decision and a strong belief that there was virtually no chance of the Supreme Court undoing the transaction,” Weinberger said.
As of Wednesday, the BT Intervenors’ appeal had not been filed.