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Special Council Panels Created to Review Burlington Telecom


Published October 29, 2009 at 12:05 p.m.

Burlington City Council President Bill Keogh Thursday formed two special panels to look into various aspects of Burlington Telecom, the first step in trying to get a handle on how it came to be that the city loaned the fledgling utility as much as $17 million without explicit public knowledge.

That loan came without explicit approval from the city's Board of Finance or the City Council, and because none of the money was repaid within 60 days it's also a violation of BT's certificate of public good.

Mayor Bob Kiss and Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold have said the loan was both appropriate and necessary. Leopold apologized to councilors last week for not being clear in his presentations that money from the city's so-called "cash pool" was funding BT, and said it was a mistake to keep them in the dark about the CPG violation. Leopold said he first became aware of the violation in November, but didn't disclose it to the council until May.

The panels were approved during a long and contentious council meeting that began Monday night and ended early Tuesday morning. Despite the acrimony over whether to put Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold on paid leave, the resolution calling for further investigation into how money was approved and spent on BT's behalf passed unanimously.