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Senior center struggles to pay bills

Staff writer

Though the Hillsboro City Council was sympathetic to the plight of Hillsboro Senior Center, the vote was split Sept. 2, as to whether to help the organization becoming fiscally solvent.

The motion was made and seconded for the city to provide $5,000 to be used toward city utilities with the center raising another $5,000 to match the “grant” from the city. When the voting took place, Byron McCarty and Bob Watson voted in favor of the motion while Shane Marler and Shelby Dirks voted against. Mayor Delores Dalke then had to break the 2-2 tie and voted “no.”

The primary reason for the votes not in favor of the financial assistance was because the council didn’t want to set a precedence of assisting other civic and service organizations that might be in similar situations.

The request became known to the council a few months ago when the city council held hearings with various organizations and departments. At that time, the senior citizens’ organization addressed the council and requested city funds to help offset expenses.

In a letter dated June 2 and addressed to Dalke and the council, the board of directors of the center noted that income for the center had been declining but expenses continued to increase.

“In order to pay more than minimum wages to the manager and cook, and to pay all other expenses, … there needs to be an additional $43,000 coming from the senior center,” the letter stated. “We have worked hard to raise this additional money but that amount seems to be beyond what we can accomplish.”

The center serves 35-40 meals five days a week with 12-15 meals delivered. No profit is made from the meals because they are funded through North Central-Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging.

However, the center is responsible for the wages of the assistant cook, custodian, a dishwasher, utilities, insurance, postage, office supplies, kitchen and custodial supplies, and other expenses.

In 2007, the organization withdrew its last CD. After using that amount for expenses, there was $8,500 more in expenses than the center’s income. At the end of May 2008, the Hillsboro Senior Center checking account was approximately $17,000.

“We are appealing to the City of Hillsboro for help in meeting our financial needs. Without help from the city, it is very possible that the senior center cannot function and will need to be closed,” the letter read.

Last modified Sept. 10, 2008

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