With a small audience of community nonprofit leaders and organizers, Oak Bluffs selectmen late last week discussed the town’s role as host of the majority of the Island’s nonprofits and human services. They met jointly with the Oak Bluffs planning board on Friday afternoon.

“The fact is we are the host community for just about everything, and that puts the burden all on us,” said selectman Gregory Coogan.

Oak Bluffs is home to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the YMCA, the regional high school, and the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, among other organizations.

“None of the other towns are willing to listen to that, and we need to get their attention,” Mr. Coogan said. “We’re going to have to find a way to do that, even if at times it may seem rude.”

Oak Bluffs shares the operating costs of many human services with the other five Island towns based on a formula that takes into account town population size and property values. Selectmen noted that their budget is affected because nonprofits do not pay taxes on their property, and they use town services and infrastructure. That means, in the selectmen’s view, that Oak Bluffs taxpayers are paying more for the nonprofits’ services than other Island towns.

The joint meeting was scheduled as Martha’s Vineyard Community Services begins the permitting process for a significant overhaul and expansion. Community Services originally planned to include affordable employee housing as part of the plan, but limited wastewater capacity put the brakes on that part of the plan, at least for now.

Planning board chairman Ewell Hopkins has said he opposes the Community Services expansion plan if it does not include housing or an offset fee. Friday, Mr. Ewell said he was looking to clarify where selectmen stand.

“I want to understand in a public forum what the elected members of the [selectmen] feel about these larger issues,” he said. “When we get back to the financial burden an applicant will impose upon our town or exacerbate...that’s when I need your input.”

Selectmen agreed there is an unequal financial impact on the town, and that should be reflected in the Community Services expansion plan. But they did not decide on a specific approach.

They discussed asking nonprofits to offer special benefits for Oak Bluffs residents, a half-price gym membership at the YMCA, for example. They also discussed the possibility of asking the organizations for payment in lieu of taxes. Ultimately, they agreed the regional funding formula for shared services needs to be altered.

Town administrator Robert Whritenour said continued collaboration with the town of Tisbury could lead to some new ideas. The two towns have been meeting jointly this fall to discuss sharing services and other cost-saving measures.

Selectmen asked Mr. Whritenour to get more information, including how much money the town loses from non-taxable property. They also asked him to look into how other off-Island towns offset the costs of hosting nonprofits and universities. They plan to discuss the issue again in coming months.

At the end of the meeting, representatives from some Island nonprofits had their say. Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts, reminded selectmen that the nonprofits operate according to town rules. She said she hoped the tone of the conversation could be more positive, and cautioned against using the word “burden” to describe the organizations dedicated to community enrichment.

“I just want, as this does become more public in terms of our newspapers and others, that we are looking for solutions, and all of us play a part in it,” she said.

“We are looking to work together,” said selectmen chairman Gail Barmakian.