Franklin Parish Tax Assessor Rod Elrod and Coroner Joel Eldridge were the only parish-wide officials re-elected without opposition when qualifying closed Aug. 8.
As candidates prepare for the Oct. 12 primary election,both Elrod and Eldridge enter their fourth terms with the goal to continue to serve Franklin Parish residents.
“I love this job, I love this community, and it is an honor to continue to serve Franklin Parish as coroner,” Eldridge said. “It is gratifying to know that I’ve earned the trust of this parish.”
Elrod mirrored Eldridge’s response while describing his feelings for the assessor’s position.
“I enjoy this job,” Elrod said. “I enjoy the people I work with, and I enjoy the people of this parish we serve.”
Elrod was first elected in 2007 after J.W. Dean announced his retirement after 34 years as Franklin Parish’s assessor.
“He set the office on a firm foundation,” Elrod said. “I relied heavily on him at first, but the transition was perfect. I credit a lot of my success to the standards he set.”
Elrod also credits his success to the five-person assessor’s office staff.
“This is a testament to the staff and their attitude toward their job,” Elrod said. “This is the people’s office. We take care of the people’s business, and we take our job serious.”
The assessor’s office deals with complicated issues, but Elrod assures his staff, led by Chief Deputy Adron Henderson, have been properly trained.
The assessor is required by the Louisiana Constitution to list and value all property subject to ad valorem taxation on an assessment roll each year. The ad valorem basis for taxation means that all property should be taxed according to value. The assessed value is a percentage of fair market value or use value as prescribed by law.
The assessor does not raise or lower taxes and does not make laws that might affect property owners. The Louisiana Constitution, adopted by voters, provides basic framework for taxation, and tax laws are made by the Louisiana Legislature.
While serving as assessor, Elrod has witnessed the transition from handwritten tax roles to computerized roles. Currently, Franklin Parish assessor’s office has computerized tax role copies dating back to 2004, Elrod said.
“This office is computer and technologically driven,” Elrod said.
The 65-year-old avid runner said he did not know how many more terms he will serve as assessor but said Franklin Parish’s future “could look bright” with two pipelines considering routes through the area.
In 2018, the top four tax payers for Franklin Parish were pipelines.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., Perryville Gas Storage, Regency Intrastate of Plano, Texas, ETC Tiger Pipeline LLC of Rowlette, Texas were ranked one through four respectively. The four companies contributed some $4 million to the parish tax role in 2018.
Eldridge, a Crowville native, joined the medical community 29 years ago when he started a family practice clinic in Winnsboro and was a member of Franklin Medical Center’s medical staff, where he served as an emergency room physician.
Additionally, he continues to practice family medicine at FMC’s rural health clinics in Franklin and Tensas parishes and is owner of Winnsboro-based Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service.
The coroner’s office is responsible for investigation and determination of cause and manner of deaths, Eldridge said. Deputy coroners are assigned cases of homicide, suicide, accidental, undetermined and all sudden, unexpected or medically unattended natural deaths.
The coroner’s office is also statutorily responsible for involuntary commitment of people who are mentally ill, Eldridge said. The coroner’s office will issue an Order of Protective Custody (OPC) for someone who is unwilling or unable to seek voluntary medical help and is considered to be homicidal, suicidal or gravely disabled. The order instructs law enforcement to take the person into custody for an immediate evaluation by a physician.
Both Elrod and Eldridge said their departments work well with other departments housed in the Franklin Parish Courthouse.
“”Regardless if it is death investigations or protective orders, we work well with the Franklin Parish Sheriff’s office on all fronts and matters,” said coroner spokesperson Shane Scott. “Sheriff Cobb runs a solid department, and he has the finest deputies and some of the most efficient, highly-trained investigators out there working the streets day and night. The cooperation and coordination between our office and his offices are seamless, and the parish is better served because of it.”
Elrod said the assessor’s office works closely with the departments.
“We have a close cooperation with the other departments in the courthouse, and we will continue to work closely with the other departments to serve the residents of Franklin Parish,” Elrod said.