By Tim Gardner
Those who know Andrea Turbyfill best and others who come in contact with her often stress how impressed they are with her sincerity, kindness and the Christian manner in which she presents herself. And as Avery County Tax Administrator, Turbyfill is held in high esteem by the citizens she serves as well as her administrative superiors and colleagues for her professionalism, fairness and expertise in the various job duties she holds.
Continue reading the below interview questions from this reporter to Turbyfill and her answers to various topics including her personal life, practical work experiences and her many duties in, and rewards, of her current job, which consolidates Avery’s tax collections, tax assessing and mapping under her supervision and direction.
High Country Press: For those who want to know more about you outside of your profession, what is your personal background?
Turbyfill: I grew up on new Beech Mountain. I have been married to Jerry Turbyfill for 28 years. We have a 16-year-old daughter, Sage, a sophomore at Avery High School. We are members of Chestnut Dale Baptist Church.
High Country Press: A two-part question: What does your practical experiences in tax, mapping and other land-centered work entail? And how long have you worked for the County of Avery?
Turbyfill: I have worked for Avery County for 23 years. Prior to that, I worked for more than ten years in real estate and property management. My real estate experience acclimated me to working with plats, deeds, surveys and some mapping. I have my personal property and real property appraisal certificates, and completed numerous classes for tax collection, as well as for listing and assessing property in the county.
After being hired by Phillip Barrier, the Tax Assessor at the time, I quickly became acquainted with tax mapping and appraisals. Going from real estate brokerage to the tax office wasn’t a tremendous jump; rather, it was a relatively smooth transition.
High Country Press: In detail, what are your job duties and responsibilities as Tax Administrator?
Turbyfill: The primary duties of the tax administrator are to list and assess all property in Avery County and keep a current scroll of all property owners. I report to the County Commissioners, County Manager and Assistant County Manager. I give them reports about collections, sales and all essential information in the office. Our office has many moving parts.
There is a lot of work that happens in it. Our staff collects property tax for the county; we assess personal property such as single-wide mobile homes, campers and household personal property. All businesses must list their personal property for taxation. Our staff does all of Avery County’s real property revaluations in-house, meaning our appraisers visit every piece of property in the county. Many counties contract with a company to come in and complete their revaluations because it is such a big job, but we handle ours on our own here.
High Country Press: Has consolidating the tax collector’s, tax assessor’s and mapping departments made the over-all tax office operation more efficient? And if so, in what ways?
Turbyfill: Yes, the office is much more efficient as a combined entity. Ideally, any taxpayer should be able to walk into the office, and no matter what representative he or she speaks with, get the information needed without having to jump from one office representative to another or to more than one. However, if the solution or answer is highly technical, a person may have to be routed to the specialist in that area to get the necessary information.
High Country Press: What are the attributes for being a productive and successful tax administrator…how would you define them?
Turbyfill: To be successful, you have to meet deadlines. It is important to be customer service oriented. And you have to know how to multitask as well. Ultimately, you have to be oriented toward solving problems.
High Country Press: What do you consider the most rewarding aspects of, or what you like best, about being Avery County’s Tax Administrator?
Turbyfill: I enjoy working for the citizens of Avery County. I know that it sounds cliché, but I sincerely mean it. I don’t always make people happy because it’s about taxes, and no one likes to be taxed. It is rewarding to help someone with a land issue or explain a program to help the elderly save some money. There is also a degree of satisfaction when I can solve a problem and fix an issue that someone is having.
High Country Press: You serve at the leisure of the Avery County Commissioners, the county manager, and foremost, your fellow-Avery County citizens. Specifically, how do you describe those experiences?
Turbyfill: When I was given this opportunity to be the Tax Administrator, my main goal was to do my very best for the taxpayers of Avery County, the commissioners and the county manager.
I want to make my family proud and show my daughter that women can be successful in leadership roles. I am grateful for all of the support from the commissioners (Martha Hicks, Tim Phillips, Dennis Aldridge, Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. and Robert Burleson), the county manager (Phillip Barrier) and the assistant county manager (Cindy Turbyfill). I have had tremendous support from them and many others. I appreciate that they have been behind me in this new role.
High Country Press: In your general work week… Do you have a regular routine or does your general work schedule often change daily?
Turbyfill: My work schedule can change by the minute. I am usually in my office in the Avery County Court House from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each Monday through Friday (excluding vacation and holidays). I make a list of things to get done each day. But some days that gets changed. Issues always crop up, and sometimes they can take hours to remedy. I occasionally have to go out into the field to help measure a residence or ensure we have listed a property correctly.
High Country Press: What have been the most significant changes in Avery County tax collections, tax assessing and mapping that you’ve witnessed first-hand and/or that you’ve actually been instrumental in making?
Turbyfill: In my 23 years working in the tax office, I have seen our staff members go from using paper maps to having them on computers. I have also seen our staff begin to use Global Positioning System (GPS) with our mapping, and now we can use it on our phones. Our tax software has continued to be upgraded and is much more advanced than before. And there are no more handwritten receipts for taxes paid. Our staff now can now scan all essential documents and store them digitally. The public has more information at their fingertips through our web page.
High Country Press: You are known who are for having a highly-professional, helpful, courteous and most efficient staff. Who are your staff members and what does their job duties encompass? And what comments would you like to make about each of them?
Turbyfill: Our staff consists of:
*Sharon Moody- Sharon has been working in Tax Collections for ten years and is a deputy collector. She has completed the tax collections class.
*Crystal Hicks- Crystal also works in collections and has done so for four years. She is cross training in motor vehicles.
*Danielle Henson- Danielle has been here for 22 years; she does land transfers as well as personal property appraisal
*Shelia Thomas- Sheila is the most experienced tax professional we have. She has been with the tax office for 27 years and serves as the Business Personal Property Manager. She is our go-to person for historical/institutional knowledge.
*Alyssa Carter, Nick Wanner and Marty Dellinger are all new. They are our new Real Property Appraisers. I couldn’t be happier with these three in the appraisal department. They are learning vast amounts of new material quickly. They have hit the ground running, and the county is lucky to have them. It can sometimes take several years to become proficient as a tax appraiser, but they are picking up its intricacies much faster.
High Country Press: You are expected to have the interim tag removed from your job title as tax administrator during the February 6 meeting of the Avery County Board of Commissioners. What are some specific projects or functions on your professional drawing board of which Avery Countians can expect from you as long as you remain in the job?
Turbyfill: There are several people who are new to their positions in the tax office. We have been transitioning since some of our experienced people have retired. One of my primary goals is getting all staff members trained to their appropriate job levels. Then, to start getting each employee in the
office cross-trained so that they have the skills to help the citizens with almost any issue brought to their attention. My primary focus is improving professionalism and providing competent customer service to the public, along with meeting our expected requirements for accurate and fair taxation.
High Country Press: What additional comments would you like to make about yourself, Avery’ tax collections, assessing and mapping operations and any other topics to all who read this article?
Turbyfill: Our appraisers will be working on our 2026 revaluation. You may see our clearly marked county car in your driveway. Our appraisers all have badges identifying who they are and where they work. They will knock on your door and speak with you if they have questions. If you have any questions regarding revaluation or any other issues myself and my staff handles, please feel free to call our office at: (828) 733-8214.
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