Belmont (France) (AFP)

"The town hall is all the time": rural mayors do not count their hours to "make the village live" despite the growing difficulty of a function sometimes abused.

"I'm far from being at 35. The town hall is all the time," says Adrien Pellegrini (LR), 40-year-old real estate builder and mayor of La Longeville (Doubs) since 2014. This wooded town of 800 inhabitants It has nine dairy farms and many frontier workers and is located in the Jura near the Swiss border.

The first magistrate of the village gets up all the week at 6:00, goes to the town hall and arrives at work at 7:00. At the office, his professional mailbox is next to that of the town hall. On his mobile phone: the mapping of water and sanitation networks. "If I'm at work and I have a request to build a house, I see immediately if the land is buildable and if the water passes on," he says.

"On the other hand, I made it clear that I was not the mayor of dog poop and neighborhood noises, that's not what makes a town move forward." Adrien Pellegrini has other concerns such as the security of the road or the project of creating a building to accommodate the extracurricular activities and the canteen of the school.

But being mayor of a rural commune, can also be painful. "It's up to the mayor to see and announce the deaths, it's hard, we're not trained psychologically for that?" Says Pellegrini.

He will never forget this sad day of February 2016 when two teenagers of the village die in a school bus accident, nor the one where a farmer dies, crushed under a bale of hay.

The mayor of Belmont and president of the Association of Rural Mayors of the Doubs, Daniel Cassard, 76, notes every day that "morale is not good overall" among the 430 mayors of the association.

- Neighborhood quarrels -

"Many small towns will have trouble building a list in the next municipal elections and we expect 50% renewal, against about 35% in general," predicts the 76 year old man who will complete his sixth term in office. March.

The advent of intercommunality has "robbed the mayor of his prerogatives", he is "increasingly relegated to dealing with neighborhood quarrels, people can not stand anything," he regrets.

In rural communes of less than 3,500 inhabitants the compensation is modest, from 661 to 1,673 euros gross per month, according to their population.

Daniel Cassard, whose wife volunteered to flourish for 37 years, also denounced "incivilities", see "physical violence" against local officials, evoking the death of the mayor of Signes (Var), Jean-Mathieu Michel, in the exercise of his functions.

Monday, 85 parliamentarians of the majority LREM-MoDem launched an appeal entitled "Do not touch my mayor!" to denounce this violence.

Despite the difficulties of the mandate, "many mayors are moving" to "live the village", however, says Jean-Nicolas Gruneisen, elected in Cubry (Doubs), a small town of 87 inhabitants.

Become mayor unlabeled by chance in 2017, this father of 49 years devotes a lot of energy to the life of his town. "I open the mail every night when I get home from work" and "I've spent whole weekends doing subsidy files," says the commercial executive of the agricultural sector.

Motivated by the satisfaction of the inhabitants, he renovated the town hall, the church and the chapel of the neo-Gothic castle of the town, also campaigning for the opening of a 4th class in the village children's school.

For him, "in a rural village, we are lucky to be able to self-administer" and "with enthusiasm and a little investment, we can move a lot of things."

© 2019 AFP