An accountant with a much-needed “head for numbers” is the newest member of Louisiana’s City Council.
That description is courtesy of Mayor Marvin Brown, who appointed Susan Fregeau as Ward III Alderman at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“Susan’s got a lot of energy. She’s got a lot of ideas. She’s not afraid to work to get things done,” Brown said.
Her experience as an accountant — her “head for numbers” — was another factor in his recommending she take the seat. Fregeau head of the Council’s Finance Committee as it mulls over how to shore up the city’s budget.
Fregeau says she is “not a political person” and had not imagined she would get involved in city government when she moved to Louisiana. She has worked at a CPA firm that specialized in audits of government bodies when she came out of college, before moving on to work as the comptroller of a rock-and-roll radio station. In 1991 she launched her own CPA practice, specializing in small businesses. She also spent some time working as the CPA for a pair of prominent, civic-minded non-profits in Chicago: Friends of the Parks and Friends of the Chicago River.
Now, she plans to apply that experience to her work in Louisiana.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to help and see if we can come up with new ways to fund our town,” Fregeau said
One of the options Fregeau believes the city needs to consider is increasing revenue through higher taxes.
“I know no one enjoys paying taxes, myself included. But if we don’t all come together and do something about the condition of our town, we are all going to lose the value of most people’s largest asset, which is their home,” Fregeau said,
Fregeau added that she has not been following the city’s financial situation as closely as she plans to due to the annual crunch at her firm as tax day approached. Now that she’s on the other side of April 15, she plans to sit down with city leaders and dive into the details.
Fregeau had been active around Louisiana before joining the City Council. With her daughter Melissa she launched historiclamo.com, a collection of historical research pitched at Louisiana visitors and natives alike. The Louisiana Community Betterment Association recognized their work at the annual Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Banquet earlier this month when it gave them the chamber’s “Advocate of the Year” award.
Fregeau has been one of the driving forces behind the inaugural “Ribs on the River” barbecue contest after she suggested it to the Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau.
These efforts were inspired, Fregeau said, by her sense that the town had noticeably deteriorated. in the roughly half decade since she arrived.
“I’ve seen the town go downhill since I moved in,” Fregeau said.
Fregeau moved to Louisiana from Westmont, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago, in 2014. She had been searching across the Midwest for a historic home to repair.
“I had actually prayed that when I came to the right town I would know it. After going through a lot of towns — we had been over to Booneville, Fayette, and a bunch of other towns around Columbia — we stopped here on our way back through. I was actually just looking at my house to be nosy. I had seen it on historic properties.com and didn’t think it was the house for me. [But] it was,” Fregeau said.