With all the "consideration" by Emmanuel Macron. This Thursday, in Paris, the some 10 elected officials gathered for the hundredth congress of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) will be entitled to a vibrant declaration of love from the Head of State. Responding to the president of the AMF, François Baroin, who has multiplied the interviews in recent days to explain that local elected officials were first suffering from a "lack of consideration",the President will celebrate, according to the Elysée, the "central role" of the mayor, always first on the front of the "social emergencies". Preceded by a cumbersome reputation of “president of globalized metropolises”, Macron will not fail to pay a strong tribute to rurality – "a chance" for the Republic – while promising to tackle territorial fractures.

To shelter from a stormy reception – the AMF congress has already shown that it was capable of this – the Head of State offered a reception on Wednesday to more than a thousand mayors in the presidential palace. Almost all the ministers had been requisitioned for the occasion. The object being to convince that in addition to its "consideration", this government is committed to giving communities greater freedom and the means that go with it. These good words will not be enough for the mayors, who have loudly challenged several initiatives of the executive: 13 billion euros in savings imposed on communities over five years, reduction in APL, reduction in subsidized jobs or even exemption from the tax. dwelling. On this last point in particular, Macron knows he is eagerly awaited. In addition to seeing it as an attack on the spirit of decentralization, the mayors fear that the abolition of the housing tax for 80% of French people will result in a reduction in their means. They are scalded by the precedent of the professional tax, abolished by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. The State then promised to compensate for this loss of tax revenue. But these compensations were calculated according to the situation of the companies at the time when the exemption decision was taken, so that the municipalities were deprived of the increases from which they could have benefited. Nothing like this this time, swears the Elysée: the mechanism of "relief" should take into account any rate hikes.

Before the mayors, Emmanuel Macron will reconsider his commitment to "global overhaul" local taxation. Should we consider the creation of new local taxes or is it better to move towards a sharing of national tax, including VAT? A mission on local finances, co-chaired by former PS minister Alain Richard, is due to submit its conclusions in the spring of 2018.

Christophe Ferrari, mayor of Pont-de-Claix (Isère): “Every day, we have to take on the anger of the inhabitants”

For Christophe Ferrari, everything had “started well with the conference of the territories”. Election promise of the candidate Macron, this round table bringing together the State and the communities on the subject of the reforms to come was held for the first time in the Senate on July 17. But since then, the PS mayor of Pont-de-Claix (Isère), also president of Grenoble Métropole, denounces a “trust issue”.

“It should be considered that we are major players in the recovery, and not one of the difficulties of this recovery”, believes the elected official, who has run this city of 2008 inhabitants since 11. The town, known for its chemical site classified Seveso, hosts 000% of social housing and has one of the lowest incomes of the agglomeration. Its inhabitants are mostly small employees, workers and retirees from the surrounding industries. A "vulnerable population", whose “difficulties of daily life” are the subject of a "strong attention" of the municipality, explains Christophe Ferrari: “With us, there is no queue for the crèche and the drop-in centre, it is essential. And we put the package on educational policies. The town hall pays 360 euros per child and per year for school supplies, extracurricular activities, cultural activities... compared to an average of 140 euros in the Grenoble area. But the decline in state grants (- 1,6 million euros between 2010 and 2017 at Pont-de-Claix) is forcing the city to cut its budgets. The gymnasium is now heated to 16°C and the schools “rather at 19°C than at 21°C”, details the aedile. Subsidies to associations have been spared "because we count on them for the supervision of young people", but extracurricular services have been reduced.

At the municipality, retirements are no longer replaced. Emergency aid has been budgeted at nearly 90 euros for 000, compared to 2018 this year: “Social distress keeps increasing. Every day, we have to bear the anger of the inhabitants,says Ferrari. The government is very far from all that. The mayor deplores the lack of guarantee on the evolution of allocations after 2018. A situation "untenable" : “It is more and more difficult to be elected local. But it is we who participate for a lot in the balance of society.

Maure de Bretagne, November 20, 2017. Portrait of Michel Chiron, mayor of the town of Val D'Anast. ORDER NO. 2017-1605
(Photo Thierry Pasquet. Signatures for Liberation)

Michel Chiron, mayor of Val-d'Anast (Ille-et-Vilaine): "We are told that the housing tax will be compensated in 2018, but then?"

Since 1er January 2017, we should no longer say Maure-de-Bretagne, but Val-d'Anast, a name born from the merger of this town of 3 inhabitants, recognizable by its imposing 400th century churche century, with its little neighbor Campel (500 inhabitants). “The idea was to weigh more at the level of the community of communes, says its mayor, Michel Chiron, 71 years old. But it also allows us to save money by pooling our technical resources and our services, while obtaining an increase in the state grant.

For the rest, the concerns of this former administrative and financial director of the local flour mill have not changed. Starting with the isolation of its town which, located about forty kilometers from Rennes and outside the main roads, has some difficulties in attracting businesses and has to deal with the lack of public transport. “With four daily rotations by coach, the service with Rennes is correct, He explains. But there is no connection with Redon or neighboring towns such as Guipry-Messac, 20 km away, where there is an SNCF station. This geographical situation, which encourages the population to frequent more the shops of the town, is however not without advantages. “With the financial pressure on the edge of town, people also prefer to come here to buy land,” adds Chiron.

The next abolition of the housing tax ("25% of our budget" specifies the aedile), just like the fall in endowments, are however for him a source of concern: “How do you want to balance the accounts of the municipality under these conditions? We are told that the housing tax will be compensated in 2018, but then? Today, there are no more possible savings. We will do nothing more!”This concern is all the stronger since Val-d'Anast has no shortage of projects, such as the creation of a medical centre. First magistrate of a rural commune (8 hectares for 000 inhabitants), Michel Chiron, who wants to be resolutely without labels, in any case keeps the pleasure of direct contact with his constituents: “We are here to help and we know the needs of the population well. I wouldn't see myself as mayor of a town where you don't know the people."

Philippe Bouche mayor of the commune of Faugères. Faugères Hérault, November 20, 2017 ORDER N° 2017-1604
(Photo David Richard. Transit for Liberation)

Philippe Bouche, mayor of Faugères (Hérault): "The cause seems lost to me for small towns"

In March, the mayor of Faugères (a Hérault village of about 500 inhabitants) does his accounts: out of a total of 2 million euros, he lacks 500 to build a new building combining school and town hall. "Today, they are both housed in a XNUMXth century building.e century. It is no longer up to standard, does not accommodate disabled people and offers no possibility of expansion. summarizes Philippe Bouche, 62 years old. This mayor, LR trend "but not enclosed", then takes up his pen and writes to the great fortunes of France to solicit financial aid. Delicate, this former insurance inspector accompanies his mail with a bottle of red. A faugères, of course.

“I received a few negative responses: Dassault, Hermès, Auchan, Bettencourt. The others, like François Pinault, Bernard Arnault, Mohed Altrad, François Fillon or Gérard Depardieu did not even answer. And of course, we did not receive a penny. The project will ultimately not see the light of day. Sketches of the elegant building hang on the wall in the mayor's office. “Instead, we plan to use buildings formed by rehabilitated containers. It would cost us 500 to 000 euros less.”But what weighs the most on Philippe Bouche is the“avalanche of administrative standards” which plagues him on a daily basis. Papers to fill out, texts to consult, regulations to respect. In this context, the disappearance of two subsidized jobs handicaps him even more. “The cause seems lost to me for small towns. They are doomed. Gradually, the mergers become mandatory and all the competences of the villages go to the intermunicipalities. And the voice of the little ones is lost. Me, in my community, which brings together 25 municipalities, I only have one vote out of 42. The compensation promised by the State to deal with shortfalls in housing tax does not reassure him: “We are going to be on a drip to survive,” predicts the chosen one. He will not make the trip to Paris for the Congress of Mayors. But he does hope that Emmanuel Macron will make encouraging announcements, for example on the reduction of administrative standards. "Anyway, on the question of state grants, we can't go any lower."

(Photo Olivier Touron for Liberation)

Guillaume Delbar, Mayor of Roubaix (North): "We are going to play the free jobs card to the fullest"

The day after Emmanuel Macron's visit to his land, Guillaume Delbar, Juppeist mayor of Roubaix, gives discharge to the President: “He understood us … but we will remain insistent.” The city councilor had signed Grigny's appeal a month ago demanding emergency measures for working-class neighborhoods. Among which the end of the reduction of assisted contracts. A union minimum for Roubaix and its 95 inhabitants, half of whom live on less than 000 euros per month. Here more than elsewhere, the bleeding of subsidized jobs hurts. With 980 employees, the voluntary sector is, alongside the hospital, the city's largest employer. Example among others: social centers in Roubaix have already lost 3 of their 500 subsidized jobs. At this rate, they will only be… 9 at the end of 29! Unless Emmanuel Macron keeps his promise to maintain 8 subsidized jobs in priority neighborhoods next year.

Since the closure of its factories in the 70s, the former textile capital has been the victim of an ordeal worthy of the Danaïdes: families who become richer leave the city, before being replaced by poorer ones, who when they grow rich… go away in their turn. Retaining the middle classes in Roubaix, starting with this small “beurgeoisie” originating from the city, is a Herculean task. But there are grounds for hope. Because successful companies, established in Roubaix, play the game of integration: Kipsta, the Decathlon brand, the European leader in data hosting OVH, Ankama, the digital creator... All were sensitive to the exhumation by Emmanuel Macron of frank jobs, this bonus between 5 and 000 euros for hiring an unemployed person from priority neighborhoods. “We are going to play the free jobs card to the full”, promises Guillaume Delbar, who is also overwhelmed by Macron's desire to encourage experimentation in urban policy. To revitalize certain districts, the municipality of Roubaix will thus put on sale, at the beginning of 2018, 18 dilapidated houses at the price of 1 euro, provided that the future owners, first-time buyers, invest in the renovation. And in the same spirit, the city is multiplying original initiatives to become the capital of the circular economy and zero waste.

Alain Auffray , Pierre-Henri Allain (in Rennes) , Maïté Darnault (in Grenoble) , Sarah Finger (in Montpellier) , Dominique Albertini , Alexandre Lenoir (in Lille)

source: © Mayors suspicious of Macron