Vermont Business Magazine Mayor Miro Weinberger and the co-op Keep Burlington Telecom Local have released the following statements regarding the failure of Ting from Toronto and KBTL to reach an agreement on a potential collaboration last Friday. The Burlington City Council was deadlocked on deciding between the two bidders November 6 and asked the two finalists to find a way to collaborate. The Council is expected to re-vote on November 27 as an end-of-the-year deadline approaches. Two other firms who were initially finalists before they were pared to two, ZRF Partners from New Jersey and Schurz Communications from Indiana, could potentially also be back in the running.
BT is back on the agenda for Monday night's City Council meeting (which begins at ). Watch live coverage on Channel 317 or on YouTube. Channel 17 Town Meeting Television in Burlington.
Weinberger: "I appreciate that both Ting and KBTL worked so hard to find common ground over the course of the week. I also want to thank former Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle for stepping into the discussions at the suggestion of Councilor Ali Dieng and working creatively to find a way to combine Ting’s impressive proposal and track record with the benefits of increased local ownership. While I am disappointed that a Ting proposal to allow the co-op to own up to 20 percent of the new Burlington Telecom — in addition to the previously negotiated City ownership interest — narrowly failed to secure KBTL board approval, the effort speaks well of both organizations.
"The Council deadlock over its selected finalists and the failure of the collaboration effort put the future of Burlington Telecom and the City’s related interests in a precarious and uncertain position. I will be working closely with Councilors over the coming days to bring this challenging issue to resolution quickly and responsibly."
Keep BT Local statement on Collaborative Discussions with Ting/Tucows: "While talks between Keep BT Local and Ting/Tucows did not find common ground this week, KBTL’s Board of Directors reiterated their desire to continue collaborating with city leaders moving forward.
"The board of Keep BT Local met with Ting CEO Elliott Noss several times during the past week to determine if the two parties could find a successful formula for a joint venture. The talks were the result of a City Council resolution – prompted by repeated 6-6 tie votes between Ting/Tucows and KBTL – passed at their Nov. 6th meeting.
"While the talks were not successful, there were several potential solutions discussed. Unfortunately, some of the solutions would not have allowed the co-op to keep its structure intact. Keeping that structure intact was a key concern for KBTL, as mentioned at the Nov. 6th City Council meeting by Board Member Andy Montroll."
KBTL board member David Lansky said: “The Co-op seeks to retain its structure as a community organization that represents its constituents through membership and achieves an equity share that allows for a path to eventual ownership and autonomous control of Burlington Telecom.”
He added, “Ting and Keep BT Local have very different business models, so it should come as no surprise that a mere five-day effort to find a way to fuse them didn’t succeed. However, that we were able to identify several potential paths toward a solution in our limited discussion over the past five days should be celebrated as a success, albeit a limited one.”
Lansky announced the results of the negotiations to the City Council by saying: “We had a series of good meetings with Elliot Noss and Monica Webb about how Ting and KBTL might be able to work together to purchase and operate BT. Throughout these meetings we experienced the Ting representatives as generous with their time, thoughtful, sincere, respectful, and open to discussion and consideration of a broad collection of options. We were unable to reach agreement on a way to work together that is acceptable to both parties.”
Both the Mayor’s office and City Councilors met with KBTL during this process and KBTL will continue to collaborate with city leaders moving forward to address the community’s interest in local ownership of Burlington Telecom.