Bayonne: The city wants to continue its investment plan despite the economic crisis

During the debate on the 2024 budget orientation on Thursday, December 14, Mayor Jean-René Etchegaray provided a brief mid-term assessment. An opportunity to recall that the investments planned for the first three years were made “at the level of the amount we sometimes do in six years”. He highlighted the difficult context at the start of his mandate marked in Bayonne, as elsewhere, by the health crisis, inflation, energy surges and a sharp slowdown…

As the debate on the 2024 budget orientation approached on Thursday, December 14, Mayor Jean-René Etchegaray provided a brief mid-term assessment. An opportunity to recall that the investments planned for the first three years were made “at the level of the amount we sometimes do in six years”. He highlighted the difficult context at the start of his mandate marked in Bayonne, as elsewhere, by the health crisis, inflation, energy surges and a sharp slowdown in the real estate market, which is impacting tax revenues. “Minus 25% transfer tax for valuable consideration.” But he is quick to announce that “we will continue to move forward with the same investment goals.”

The mayor is talking about 2024, but he is planning major projects scheduled until 2028. These include the complete renovation of the Citadelle and Malégaria schools, the Breuer and Citadelle micro-nursery, and the renovation of the media library on the Place. des Gascons, the market, the arenas and the Pont du Génie. He also insisted on human investment and promised a total increase of the compensation system for municipal agents by 3.7 million euros over the next three years. “We must not forget our agents,” he insists, paying tribute to their daily work.

Sylvie Durruty, First Assistant for Finance and Human Resources, confirms. “We need to restore the attractiveness of our positions, correct inequality between sectors and improve equal treatment between women and men,” she announces. For greater efficiency and effectiveness.” More generally, he describes the financial situation as “sound with room for manoeuvre”. The city did not take out any loans in 2023 and therefore did not suffer from the increase in interest rates. Sylvie Durruty clarifies that “the debt reduction ratio is maintained”, as well as self-financing capacities.

However, the financial assistant plans to increase the rate of tax on built-up land by 0.98% and the housing tax on second homes by 0.79%. It is committed to “continuing to transform neighbourhoods” and to “support and drive the City’s role in public procurement”. In short, “a realistic and prudent way to understand our city’s challenges and its budget constraints.”

In the ranks of the opposition, the interpretation of the characters is different. For Bayonne Open City, Henri Etcheto evokes “a disproportionate and inappropriate investment program, uncertain development hypotheses, deteriorating self-financing, continued indebtedness, a painful increase in the tax burden”. The leader of the BVO maintains the political choice of the majority labeled “a commercialized, inlaid and folklorized urban decoration at the expense of a welcoming and pleasant city first and foremost for those who live there”.

Analytical gap

Ecologist Michel Esteban “deplores the lack of reflection on tax revenue, the increase drives Bayonne residents away and also has consequences for the purchasing power of tenants who can no longer find housing”. For the minority in Demain Bayonne, Mathieu Bergé believes that “in the face of this financial deterioration” the majority “is sailing away from vision”. And he added: “Last year you expected sales of 12.4 million euros in three years, now it is 18.5, which is an increase of 50% in one year. The use of loans increases, you also activate an increase in taxation. So yes, these investments are necessary, but they come at the worst financial time for the city.”

Sylvie Durruty replies that “between you and us there is a gap in the analysis of the method. It’s an exercise in financial strategy, a complex exercise, but one that allows us to stay in our shoes.” There is no vote on the budget orientation debate. The budget review is set for February 8.

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