As local residents take a break from their 1040 forms to rake yards and mulch gardens, the volunteers who support the operation of our schools and municipalities have been hard at work crunching numbers in an effort to lower property tax bills.

These efforts have been supported by members of some public safety employee unions. For example, Rockport Police Chief Mark Kelley has indicated that his staff recognizes the need for fiscal restraint as they begin contract discussions.

These decisions are not made lightly, as wages are already low enough for those in law enforcement. And we appreciate that these public employees collectively understand that taxpayers, a growing number of them newly inducted to the ranks of the unemployed, are hurting financially this year.

Many workers in the Midcoast are still living with pay cuts that were instituted months ago, while the prospect of layoffs still casts a shadow on too many homes. Even as businesses are beginning to gear up for the coming tourist season, an economic recovery has yet to make it to taxpayers’ pockets.

The hope is that the teachers unions now negotiating their three-year contracts with local school boards understand fully the mood of the public this year, and its lack of appetite to grant salary increases at all. It’s not that taxpayers are stingy; they are just not ready to support raises.

Collective bargaining units should seek what is best for their enrolled members. We are grateful to those unions that recognize the benefits of restraint at a time when residents, and the towns they live in, are waking up to the dangers of debt and seeking ways to keep our communities and schools financially afloat.