It's not always easy to know how taxpayers feel about things. Case in point: The wages of town employees and compensation for town officials.

This week, we have an interesting story in Groton. Before we continue, though, please understand that we are not addressing individuals here, just the positions themselves.

Town manager Mark Haddad wants to put an article on the fall special town meeting warrant seeking approval of a one-hour increase in the workweek of one town employee. In defending the request, he said the other town employee in this same office, who does the same type of work, works and is paid for a 20-hour workweek. And at 20 hours, the individual receives full benefits from the town of Groton. Both workers make approximately $23 an hour.

With the benefits it will bring, the one hour increase for the 19-hour employee will cost taxpayers $16,000 a year, largely for health insurance.

Haddad said it's an issue of fairness to the 19-hour employee.

How about having both employees work 19 hours?

Key are two facts: that a part-time clerk gets $23 an hour and that a 20-hour job is given full benefits.

It's not uncommon for elected and appointed officials to spend taxpayer money as though it grows behind Town Hall. While this is clearly a matter for Groton taxpayers, at least in reference to the benefits question, we wonder if benefits at only 20 hours is reasonable.

There's a similar head-shaker in Shirley where selectmen receive health insurance: $17,000 for the family plan, 75 percent paid by taxpayers.

What happened to volunteer town service?

There, too, full benefits are paid at 20 hours. That's quite a hefty part-time wage.

Economic times are not getting better; state decision-makers are not growing in generosity.With all the other costs confronting you, is this really the way you want to spend your taxdollars?