After Sheriff Robert Ogden canceled an agreement with Dukes County last spring that cut off a source of funding from alarm fees, the county was faced with a revenue shortfall. This year, it is asking town voters to make up some of the difference.

The problem is that the $62,960 is in the form of five-per cent "administrative fees" quietly tacked on to funding requests for seven social service programs including Healthy Aging MV, the Center for Living and Vineyard Health Care Access. Articles placed on all town meeting warrants by the Dukes County commissioners make no mention of the new surcharge, which will flow to the county, not to the programs themselves. The county outsourced several of these programs a couple of years ago to Martha's Vineyard Community Services, which logically added an administrative charge for taking them over. It is unclear why the county deserves an additional fee for programs managed by another agency.

The new fees — and their invisibility to voters — were flagged last week by West Tisbury selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd at a meeting of the county advisory board, which is charged with keeping an eye on county expenses. The budget request was ultimately approved.

The Island's six towns already fund the county to the tune of three-quarters of a million dollars, including debt payments on the county's $1.6 million purchase of the Center for Living building. At its recent meeting, the county advisory board also agreed to let Island Health Care lease the second floor of that building rent-free for three years.

Voters deserve to know where their money is going. If there is a justification for these charges, they should be spelled out.