The new Utilities Department building will be called the Thomas F. Allt Utilities Complex. Allt served as mayor of Yuma from 1963 to 1973.
The City Council approved the commemorative naming on Wednesday to honor Allt’s “service and dedication” to Yuma and its citizens. The facility is currently under construction at 200 W. 13th St.
“We’d like to acknowledge former mayor Thomas Allt for his contributions to the city of Yuma,” Utilities Director Jeremy McCall said, calling him “an important figure in the development of the city’s water utilities.
Allt’s son, John, a Tucson resident, was on hand for the council action and accepted a plaque commemorating his father’s service. “Yuma was a great town to grow up in the 1950s. We never locked our doors. I’ve made lifelong friends from my early days in Yuma. Thank you from all the Allts,” he said.
During his father’s tenure, the city acquired a private utility, Arizona Water Company, through a voter referendum. The utility didn’t oppose being sold, but it couldn’t agree on the price. So the acquisition went through a judgment and jury trial, and the process took around 10 years.
“Mr. Allt knew the importance of water quality to the city of Yuma,” McCall said.
In the early 1970s, Yuma’s water quality was perceived to be subpar. “Mr. Allt took exception to that and he went back to Congress. He felt that the Yuma residents needed representation. He spoke up for us in a time when Mexico was getting all the acknowledgement,” McCall said.
Allt was able to secure a new contract and provide “cheap water” from the All American Canal, he added.
A staff report noted that Allt’s “vision and influence had a profound and positive impact in shaping the future of the city, with none more impactful than his legislative accomplishments in the area of water policy and the acquisition and operation of the city’s wet utility system.”
He testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance before the 91st Congress and the U.S. House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs before the 93rd Congress.
“Mayor Allt displayed a keen understanding of western water policy and its significance in the future of the City of Yuma and the importance of those policies for the well-being of all Yuma citizens,” the report stated.
“In his role as mayor, and through his involvement in helping shape western water policies in our nation’s capital, Mayor Allt developed an awareness that without the city having an assured water resource, and the ability to manage that resource, the city would never be able to control its future. Mayor Allt’s awareness and perseverance was instrumental in growing the city’s water and wastewater utility system.”
Another significant legislative accomplishment attributable to Allt’s leadership was the 1970 City Charter amendment providing for a council/manager form of government. In a 1973 interview with the Yuma Daily Sun, Allt identified the change in the city’s form of government as his “outstanding achievement of his 11 years.”
Allt was a “true public servant in every sense of the word,” the report added. He served as president of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, was the executive director for the Arizona Catholic Conference, was an active member with the Knights of Columbus and the Rotary International Club and served on several other local civic groups devoted to improving the lives of Yuma residents.
Allt was the Yuma sales representative for the Cudahy Meat Company, a position that allowed him the opportunity to build important relationships with the Yuma business community, the report noted.
“He was a well liked individual. When he left office, 360 people came to his farewell party,” McCall said, adding that the governor, senators, congressmen, former officials, active mayors and city staff “had nothing but good things to say about him.”
Allt was born Sept. 5, 1913, in Massachusetts and died Jan. 24, 2002, in Yuma, “leaving behind a legacy of accomplishments that continue to provide significant benefits to all Yuma citizens,” the report noted.
“We feel the City of Yuma should commemorate his accomplishments and his forethought for us” by naming the new facility after him, McCall said.
The council unanimously voted to approve the naming.