Non-replacement of retirements, reduction in subsidies, delay in investments… why the Department of Haute-Garonne is tightening the screws

Non-replacement of retirements, reduction in subsidies, delay in investments… why the Department of Haute-Garonne is tightening the screws
Non-replacement of retirements, reduction in subsidies, delay in investments… why the Department of Haute-Garonne is tightening the screws

the essential
Faced with the fall in its revenues linked to the real estate market, the Haute-Garonne Department will limit its recruitment, reduce certain subsidies and postpone investments. While “protecting” its major policies: social aid, ecological transition and support for municipalities.

A brake on revenues and therefore expenses. The fall in real estate sales has a direct impact on the finances of departmental councils, of which notary fees are one of the main resources. Instead of the €361 million collected in this respect in 2022, a record year, the Department of Haute-Garonne should only receive €200 million in 2024. That is to say a loss of €160 million in two years! And this effect accelerated at the start of the year: in January, when the budget was voted on, the Department was still counting on €275 million.

Added to this is another loss of €16 million in VAT that the State pays to compensate for the end of the property tax.

In a budget of €1.6 billion, an increase despite everything, the shock is cushioned by the reserves made in 2022 and 2023, boom years for real estate. The Department will use €35 million in 2024 and it is the only one in France to still have €50 million if needed.

However, the sudden drop in resources is forcing the Department to tighten the screws on some of its expenses, but this in a proportion that still remains manageable, believes Sébastien Vincini.

Subsidy cuts

The major policies of the Department, social spending, the “ecological bifurcation”, education… are “protected”, insists the PS president of the Department. Social spending is increasing (from €952 to €989 million this year) under pressure from the needs of the population, in particular disability compensation and RSA, in a department which receives 20,000 new inhabitants per year. And responding to it is the reason for the existence of the Department, insists the president who also makes it “a moral obligation”. Aid to municipalities is also preserved thanks to the use of loans.

The shock will mainly be absorbed internally by the operating cost of the departmental “machine” which employs 7,500 agents. First by limiting recruitment. Not all retirements will be replaced, which was already announced in January. Ditto for some of the 1,000 contract workers, 67 of whom have not been renewed today. Each department is also required to make savings.

In culture, sport and support for associations, certain subsidies will be cut. The 80% reduction for the Théâtre de la Cité (€190,000) is part of this. “Yes, there is bad news to announce but it is my responsibility,” defends Sébastien Vincini in the face of the accusation of “sabotage” launched by those in charge of the theater. The president of the Department affirms that decisions will be analyzed “case by case” taking into account the “viability” of each and giving priority, in the cultural and sporting fields, to “the amateur world”.

For Sébastien Vincini, the general idea is to return, for these various supports, “to a pre-Covid level of financing”.

Stade Toulousain and TFC concerned

It is only at the end of June, during the amending budget, that the departmental council will determine the level of reduction in subsidies. On the sports side, the jersey partnership with Stade Toulousain and TFC (€240,000 paid to each) will be significantly reduced. Sébastien Vincini, however, wants to remain a supporter of investments such as the extension of the Ernest-Wallon stadium. On the cultural side, the two festivals Jazz sur son 31, and 31 notes d’été, will be cut by a few dates. And the Château de Laréole will open for less time than usual. On the investment side, the department intends to prioritize the construction of colleges where the demographics are strongest and delay others.

#French

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