State auditors have told a French village near the Spanish border that it is “too rich” to continue taxing residents and should cancel council and property taxes this year.
Le Perthus, a community of 586 people, earns more than £700,000 a year from parking fees alone, equivalent to nearly £1,200 per inhabitant.
People from the surrounding region park in the village while they cross the border on foot to shop in Spain, where food, clothes and household goods are cheaper.
The village council has a surplus of well over £1 million in its coffers, while its current spending is minimal. Accordingly, the regional audit office has advised it to abandon this year’s local taxes because it has “an abundance of resources that are not being used”.
André Pezziardi, head of the Occitanie Audit Office, said: “We concluded that local taxation should be reduced to zero for council and property taxes because the contributions of citizens must have a quid pro quo, and that of course is expenditure.”
Last year the council spent less than £5,000 of £240,000 earmarked for public facilities because the mayor and councillors failed to reach agreement on budgets.
Marie-Hélène Ruart-Lucquin, the centrist mayor, said councillors had blocked proposals for a new children’s park, a medical centre, a library and other projects. “For the past two years, I’ve had opposition councillors who vote against projects and so we can’t make investments for the community.”
Ms Luart-Rucquin said she “understood” the conclusion of the audit office, “but it means forgetting about future investments… This situation disgusts me.” She said she could not accept the recommendation of the audit office, which intervened at the request of the local Prefect.
However, it is now up to the Prefect to decide whether to apply the advice. Residents are due to pay more than £320,000 in council and property taxes this year and, understandably, some are delighted at the idea of being exempted.
“There’s simply no need for us to keep paying,” said Michel, a local businessman contacted by telephone. “They [the council] aren’t doing anything with all that money they’ve got sitting there doing nothing. But I won’t raise my glass until I see my tax form with zeros in the bottom line.”
Others are concerned that squabbling on the council is paralysing the community. “The entire council is against the mayor,” said Marie. “She hasn’t got a majority so everything is blocked by the councillors.
They’re messing up the whole village. There’s no more money for the school. Last year the teacher struggled to pay for the school trip. It’s wrong.”
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/22/french-village-rich-local-will-pay-no-taxes/