The Burlington City Council voted Monday night to advance the bids of Keep BT Local and Ting in the process to buy Burlington Telecom.
Six of councilors voted for Keep BT Local,the co-op looking to buy Burlington Telecom and five voted for Tucows/Ting. Schurz was eliminated from the sale process after only getting one vote.
The public comment period was dominated by people speaking in support of Keep BT Local’s bid to buy Burlington Telecom.
Many of those speaking in support of Keep BT Local spoke passionately about the benefits of having Burlington Telecom run by a local company and criticized Mayor Miro Weinberger and some city councilors for not supporting the co-op’s bid.
“When [Weinberger] said that the offer of Keep BT Local was not viable I felt really sad,” said Diane Pearson. “I came tonight to to ask each of you one question before you vote tonight: how can our community not be viable and what can be more viable than our community?
Dean Corren and many other speaking in support of Keep BT Local echoed the sentiment that the co-op was viable and the only option that met the sales criteria of keeping Burlington Telecom local.
“Decades from now it will seem silly that we even risked not having local control over our telecom in our economy,” Corren said.
Only a few people expressed support for the other two bids. John Cowell said that the prior mismanagement of Burlington Telecom needed to be considered and the council should consider the propels from Schurz and Tuecows/Tings.
“They both offer tremendous amount professional experience and have demonstrated they can compete in a marketplace around the country,” Cowell said. “Contrast that with the local option which is somewhat undervalued.
While half of the City Council voted for Keep BT Local, some of them made it clear that their vote to move the co-op into the next stage of the sales process didn’t guarantee they’d support the bid in the final vote.
City Council President Jane Knodell said even though she started out skeptic of the bid from Keep BT Local, it was growing on her. But Knodell also was clear to point out she still thought the proposal need work.
“I’m here tonight to support Keep BT Local but also to say keep working because there will be hurtles and … I think the people that are saying we are very worried about the financing that is legitimate,” Knodell said.
The City Council is planning to pick the finalist in the sale during the next council meeting on October 30.
Correction 12:13 p.m. An earlier version of this article misspelled John Cowell's name