BURLINGTON — Is the City of Burlington thinking big enough about its telecommunications business? Not according to the longtime and soon-to-be-former head of Burlington Telecom.
BT General Manager Tim Nulty handed Mayor Bob Kiss his resignation Monday morning, opting to accept a job with ValleyNet. That White River Junction-based nonprofit communications group is dedicated to providing community-based information resources similar to the fiber-optic infrastructure BT provides. Nulty says he is accepting a “significant” cut in pay to go to ValleyNet. His last day on the job at BT is November 21.
Based on BT’s initial success — 2200 subscribers, a $2.7 million annual revenue and rapid growth rate — Nulty says BT is poised to expand into, and earn revenue from, other communities. But he’s encountered resistance from Mayor Kiss, he says, citing “nervousness” and “political pushback.” Kiss decided earlier this month to hold off on BT’s growth outside Burlington. Nulty doesn’t want to wait around and let the opportunity pass. The municipally owned network is “the first, it’s the best, it’s the biggest, but it’s not the only game in town,” he warns.
The mayor insists the city is still considering BT’s expansion, just not yet. He says he would like to see more Burlington households enrolled in the program before committing to growth outside the city limits — BT is still in the process of building infrastructure in Burlington. “I think everything is in place for Burlington to be a success story,” suggests Kiss. “As we get closer to our goals, we will share the hub with other communities . . . I think that’s a prudent process.”
BT Marketing Sales and Customer Service Manager Richard Donnelly notes that municipal government processes can sometimes be at odds with entrepreneurial ventures. “Burlington [Telecom] certainly could expand,” says Donnelly. “Now it’s time to explore that, and I don’t think that work should stop [just] because Tim has moved to an organization that is ready to do that tomorrow.”
For his part, Nulty is sure “other flowers are going to bloom” soon, as he puts it, and even more sure he’s going to be there to smell the roses, whether the City of Burlington gets a whiff or not.