World Mayor 2020

Salaries of French mayors
Research by Marie Fleury*

ON THIS PAGE: French mayors offered higher pay before local elections ||| Mayors’ salaries depend on city size ||| Accumulation of elected offices ||| New legislation against accumulation of offices ||| Salary increases are generous but not automatic or mandatory ||| Table: Salaries of French mayors ||| Further reading |||



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French mayors salariesMayors offered
higher pay before
local elections
November 2019: No other European country has as many elected local government officials as France. In the 2014 local elections, according to an estimate by the newspaper ‘Le Parisien’, voters across France elected some 580,000 local representatives, including the mayors of Paris, Lyon and Marseille but also mayors and councillors in thousands of small towns and villages. Most elected officials carry out their duties without pay and those who do receive remunerations of some kind, are paid very little compared to their peers in other European countries. For example, the Mayor of Rennes, a city of some 215,000 people, receives some €66,144 per annum, while in Germany, the Mayor of Freiburg, a city of similar size, is paid a yearly salary of €158,000. In Britain, the Mayor of Leicester – population 330,000 – receives an annual allowance of €81,935 (£70,603).


Mayors’ salaries
depend on city size

In France, the remuneration of mayors depends on the size of their communities. Mayors of villages with less than 500 people receive a monthly payment of €646, while those of cities between 50,000 and 100,000 inhabitants are paid €4,181 per month. The largest salaries are awarded to the mayors of Paris (€8,650 / month), Marseille (€8,137 / month) and Lyon (€8,227 / month).

Local elected councillors are also rewarded according to the size of towns and cities. A city councillor in Paris receives €4,807 a month, while his or her equivalent in Lyon has a monthly salary of €1,305. Councillors of cities with more than 100,000 are paid €228 a month, while councillors in smaller communities do not receive any payments at all. More than 60 per cent (350,000) of France’s 580,000 elected local officials carry out their duties on a voluntary basis.


Accumulation of
elected offices

In the past, members of local government could increase their incomes by standing for the National Assembly, the French Senate or the European Parliament. Many mayors, particularly those of larger cities, did so. For example, Olivier Carré, while Mayor of Orléans, also sat for many years in the French parliament. He thus qualified for a monthly parliamentary salary of €5,581 in addition to his mayoral pay of €4,120. Even though under French law, his total monthly pay was capped at €8,100, he was still €4,000 better off.

In recent years, the accumulation of elected mandates by one person has been widely criticised. It has been argued with some justification that mayors who are also members of the French or European parliaments are spending too much time away from home. In addition, there have been instances of conflicts of interest, where a mayor had to choose between the good of the community or the good of the country. Emmanuel Macron, before he was elected President in 2017, therefore promised that a government led by him would end the ‘accumulation of political mandates’.


New legislation against
accumulation of offices

Less than one year after Macron’s election, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, who was Mayor of Le Havre between 2010 and 2017, introduced legislation which compelled mayors to decide between serving their communities or as parliamentarians. Holding two or more elected positions was no longer an option.

The new law ‘non-cumul des mandats’ has made it financially less attractive for professionals to consider a career in local government. Indeed, prior to the forthcoming municipal elections in March 2020, many communities have reported difficulties in attracting sufficiently qualified candidates for elected positions. Particularly in rural areas, fewer and fewer people are prepared to stand for elected office. A survey by Cevipof found that almost half of mayors do not plan to stand for re-election in March 2020.


Salary increases are generous
but not automatic or mandatory

To compensate elected officers for a potential loss of income, the French government has, in its 2018 budget, made provisions for mayors and their deputies to increase their salaries by up to 40 per cent. Initially the changes to the local government remuneration structure only applied to cities with above 100,000 inhabitants (les grandes villes) but after protests from many smaller communities and with the 2020 local elections on its mind, the government has now also proposed to allow for an increase of the remuneration of village and small-town mayors by eliminating the two bottom tiers of local government. Leaders of communities with less than 500 and less than 1,000 people can now be paid the same as mayors of towns with 1,000 to 3,500 inhabitants.

The proposed 40-per-cent salary increase applies not just to mayors of larger cities but also to other elected officials, such as:
• The mayors of the 42 French cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants
• The presidents of the 101 French departments
• The presidents of the 22 regions
It is estimated that in total some 300 elected officials, including some in the country’s overseas territories, may benefit from the new measures.

The 40-per-cent salary increase for mayors of larger cities is neither automatic nor mandatory. Mayors, with the support of their city councils, have to apply for it. So far, few mayors have asked for a raise, partly because the government will not provide any additional money to fund the higher salaries. Instead any increment will come from money already allocated to salaries, meaning that more money for the mayor will result in a pay cut for other elected officials.

One of the most prominent mayors asking for an increased salary was Olivier Carré, Mayor of Orléans. After the mayor lost his seat in the National Assembly, Orléans’ city council agreed to grant him a more than four-fold increase, taking his salary from €958 to €4,129 a month. During the years Olivier Carré combined the roles of mayor and member of parliament, his income from the public purse amounted to €8,000 / month.

On the other hand, Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille, and Anne Hidalgo have both said they would not ask for an increase. Mayor Hidalgo commented that while her monthly remuneration of some €8,600 compared poorly to the salaries of mayors of other world cities, she would not ask for any increase. “I earn more than the vast majority of French people.”

Salaries of French mayors
Cities, towns, villages
with populations of:
Monthly pay
Annual pay
Less than 500
€646 (US$721)
€7,752 (US$8,665)
500 to 999
€1,178 ($1,315)
€14,136 ($15,783)
1,000 to 3,499
€1,635 ($1,825)
€19,620 ($21,907)
3,500 to 9,999
€2,091 ($2,335)
€25,092 ($28,016)
10,000 to 19,999
€2,471 ($2759)
€29,652 ($33,108)
20,000 to 49,999
€3,421 ($3,820)
€41,052 ($45.836)
50,000 to 99,999
€4,182 ($4,669)
€50,184 ($56,032)
More than 100,000
€5,512 ($6,154)
€66,144 ($73,853)
Paris
€8,651($9,659)
€103,812 ($115,911)
Lyon
€8,227 ($9,186)
€98,724 ($110,230)
Marseille
€8,137 ($9,085)
€97,644 ($109,024)

* The research was carried out in October 2019

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Recommended further reading
Salaries of British mayors
Salaries of German mayors
Salaries of Japanese mayors
French mayors 2019
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