By Fran Thompson
To say Gulf Shores Utilities has grown – even exponentially – since the Waterworks Board of Gulf Shores purchased the city’s existing utility from the town of Summerdale would be an understatement.
In 1967, the utility’s fixed assets were $297,630 and it served 870 customers. Going into its 50th anniversary summer this past June, the utility had 11,312 customers and $101.8 million in fixed assets.
And those fixed assets do not include what general manager Cliff Johnson and human resource director Julie Phillips both said were the utility’s most valuable assets – its 38 employees.
“We run a large plant with a staff the size you would expect to see in a small plant,’’ said Johnson, a Foley High (class of ‘76) and Troy University grad.
“Our training and our safety programs are as good as anybody’s.”
“We take great pride in providing quality customer service,’’ added Phillips, a Colorado native in her 10th year on East 1st St. “Our people are our most important asset. We are always trying to be pro-active. We look to solve a problem before it happens.’’
“We have dedicated people working here,’’ said Johnson, the GM for 19 of his 21 years at G.S. Utilities.
“We have people on call, and they will stay and work through ‘til they get it done – 24 hours a day.’’
• 1947 – First post office in Gulf Shores.
• 1956 – Population count reveals Gulf Shores has 120 residents. The 120 petition to incorporate.
• 1967 – The actual date that James R. Gibson, J.C. Hand & Wade Ward incorporated the Water Works Board of The Town of Gulf Shores – June 15, 1967.
• 1989 – The Water Board and the Sewer Board merge (Aug. 9) to form Gulf Shores Utilities.
• 1996 – The last time there was a rate increase, and that has been the only increase in the last 33 years. The current rate is $25 ($10 for water – $15 for sewage) for 4,000 gallons of water.
• 2011 – The last time the utility responded to a sewage spill, and that was relatively small and away from waterways.