Burlington's Steamboat Senior Center likely won't get the thousands of dollars the organization recently asked of Des Moines County, or the $1,500 the county previously gave it.

The center's staff say they need the cash to continue operating, or else the center may be forced to close.

The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors agreed during a Tuesday work session on a list of cuts to make from proposed budget increases. The board cut out the senior citizens' requested $12,000.

After being informed of the decision, the senior center's president Helen Rawlings said "it's going to be pretty hard to keep this place going."

"We won't be here very long then, I guess," Rawlings said. "I don't know where we're going to get the money."

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

The center leases its building at 501 Jefferson St. from the city of Burlington for free. However, the center has to pay the utilities. Utility costs are the biggest source of their woes.

In January, the center cost $1,513 to run, but it only brought in $383 in revenue. The Alliant Energy bill was $773 and the water bill was $117, with various other smaller bills making up the balance of expenses.

Golden Oldies events and card game fees were their biggest sources of revenues in January, at $160 and $143 respectively. The card game charge is a sore subject for the center's vice president, Marilyn Leight.

"We have to charge our seniors to play cards in the center because we need the money," Leight told the supervisors in a budget hearing last month. "Every time someone comes in to play cards, we have to charge them a dollar."

The requested $12,000 is what Leight, who has been filling in as the center's treasurer for an ill member, estimates will be needed to cover the bills in the coming year.

The center has not held an evening bingo game since October, Leight said, because it was losing money on the games. The center will hold one last bingo tournament, set for 6:30 p.m. April 6, to offload a jackpot that state law mandates the center cannot keep.

There are still Golden Oldies bingo rounds, where participants compete for small prizes the program's board members buy. The grand prize in Golden Oldies bingo Wednesday afternoon was a lamp.

"We really don't have any money," Leight said. "Our savings can't last forever."

Last year, Des Moines County gave the center $1,500. The supervisors cut that number down from $4,500 in fiscal year 2016, according to the county auditor's office. Supervisors said to eliminate the funding altogether in a Tuesday work session.

"I can't see where we can do anything for something non-mandated," Board chairman Jim Cary said. "With the budget like this, we can't do anything for any non-mandated entities."

Budget Director Cheryl McVey then asked supervisors whether they wanted to continue with what they've given the center in the past. To that, Supervisor Bob Beck said "No, I'd say eliminate it all."

"Eliminate it all, yeah," Cary said. "If we can't take care of the people who work for us, we can't take care of the people who are non-mandated."

Center leaders told supervisors that city staff do not allow them to change the thermostat to save on the energy bills. Property Maintenance Manager Breydn Hill said the center's president is given a key to the locked box containing the thermostat and is allowed to change it at will. The locked box is needed, Hill said, because people used to turn the thermostat down to cool while the boiler was running, causing maintenance problems.