Edgartown selectmen pushed back this week at a request from the county sheriff to have the town contribute funding to the Island communication center.

Sheriff Robert Ogden told selectmen at their meeting Monday that his office was seeking funding from all six towns for the Dukes County Regional Emergency Communication Center, the central dispatch for emergency calls on the Island.

The communication center is under the stewardship of the sheriff’s office, which also runs the Edgartown jail and house of correction.

Mr. Ogden, who was elected as the new sheriff last year, told selectmen this week that his office was seeking $185,906 from Edgartown, an assessment based on the annual number of dispatch calls. Edgartown had the second highest assessment after Oak Bluffs.

The funding request would require town meeting approval.

Mr. Ogden said that for about 45 years, Island towns contributed funding to the communication center based on real estate assessments. In 2010, the state took over funding for the sheriff’s office, he said, and towns stopped paying assessments.

Since then, he said, there has been deferred maintenance and lack of investment infrastructure. He said his department is now turning to the towns to pay for the communication center funding, which is $676,632 after grants.

“I want to protect our community, and I feel like right now we’re against a wall,” Mr. Ogden said. He continued: “Our regional system is failing. This is a warning. If we come back and we don’t pay for this and the system fails, we will ask you why.”

But the selectmen questioned the sudden request for funding. “If they were able to fund this service without coming to the towns for money, that’s part of the problem for us right now,” selectman Arthur Smadbeck said.

“They didn’t need the money because they didn’t put the money into the infrastructure,” Mr. Ogden said.

Mr. Smadbeck suggested looking into a capital improvement program or other more sustainable solutions.

“It’s not as simple as saying, oh taxpayers, the state doesn’t want to pay for this anymore,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “There’s got to be some accountability here, and I’m not comfortable with this, all of a sudden because we’re convenient and we’re here and we’re going to get this saddled onto our taxes.”

He said there should be a more comprehensive look at Island operations. “Maybe we shouldn’t be running a house of correction anymore,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “Maybe that’s what we can’t afford.”

Mr. Ogden said that wouldn’t solve the problem either, because the department wouldn’t receive the same amount of funding in that case.

Town administrator Pamela Dolby said the communication center spending was “on the backs of the three down-Island towns” and the amount requested would be a substantial addition to the town budget.

“I would love to apportion this equal to all towns,” the sheriff said. “If you can find a formula that works for everybody.”

Selectmen took no action on the request.

“This is my first year,” Mr. Ogden said. “We’re trying to fix the ship. We’re trying to right it. We’re trying to plug the holes.”