In a tense, nearly two-hour hearing before the full Public Service Board, Burlington Telecom pleaded its case to be allowed to dip into the city's so-called "cash pool," if needed, to make a $390,000 interest payment to CitiLeasing in less than a week's time.
The PSB made no ruling at the hearing, but it was clear that the board is skeptical that BT can support itself now, or in the future, based on its current financial model.
Initially, the hearing was to be scheduled before a hearing officer, but the three members of the board decided to take up the matter themselves.
"We take the matter very seriously," said PSB Chairman James Volz in an opening statement. "We must closely analyze the impact on the city taxpayers, and we have to take into account the past history of behavior. BT will have to demonstrate, at a minimum, that it will be able to repay the money within 60 days."
The Public Service Department, which represents ratepayers before the PSB, opposes BT's request.
"Our position has not changed, and it's not an easy one to come to for us," said Geoff Commons, a PSD attorney. "In a sense, it feels like we're pushing them off the cliff, but in fact they are the ones that have pushed themselves off the cliff. They are like a cartoon character that doesn't start to fall off the cliff until they look down."
"It's time for Burlington Telecom to face the music," said Commons.