Despite the harsh smack of reality, Mayor Kiss still believes the city can, and perhaps even should, continue to run Burlington Telecom:
The City of Burlington has received several offers from people interested in buying Burlington Telecom, including an offer from a group made up of former city councilor Andy Montroll and former Burlington Telecom executive Tim Nulty. But while the city is looking to bring in partners, Mayor Bob Kiss does not think it's time for the city to sell Burlington Telecom outright. "If Burlington Telecom continues to operate as a city project, then we're able to pay off the debit to pooled cash," Kiss said.
Well, sure, if you extend the payback period into the 22nd century, any debt is going to start looking manageable. BT's subscriber base back in February of 2010 was 4,600. Even then, Tim Nulty, the former BT General Manager (who is now one of a group of investors looking to purchase BT) said that BT would show a profit at 5,000 subscribers - which then, as now, flies in the face of basic math, when its debt payments become part of the operating costs.
BT's financial model (as outlined by the Blue Ribbon committee here back in January 2010) makes assumptions about revenue growth that simply have not materialized. If the assets used to deliver this high-quality fiber access are removed/confiscated/re-leased in a different financial structure, then the high-value aspect of the network is dissipated. BT's strategic advantages have not resulted in profitability.
Kiss is still spending time hyping the telecom as a strategic asset for the city, as if the market could not or would not create the same type of service if enough demand were present for it. This is the same type of thinking surrounding the statewide broadband project(s), the field of dreams, in that if we simply build it, businesses will flock to the state, create jobs, etc. Note that Burlingtonians that subscribe to Comcast, have a cell phone with Verizon, etc., are not spending time worrying about whether or not their service will be shut off tomorrow.
The BT debacle is a perfect example of why businesses do not move or expand in VT, because the gov't (in whatever form it takes) is fundamentally incapable of leading, following, or getting out of the way. Instead, we have public officials who conveniently ignore reality, finagle public funds to support city projects of dubious public merit, and then hide their actions behind "executive sessions" so it's harder for the public to find out how it's money has been spent - or rather, how its money has been wasted.