Foster D. Arnett, Jr. campaigned on a slogan of "Honor above all else". What this means to Mr. Arnett as Knox County Clerk is a dedication to serving Knox County taxpayers with excellent customer service, being a good steward of their money and conducting all the affairs of office with honesty and transparency. The first day in office, Mr. Arnett requested an audit of the Clerk's office finances to ensure a good foundation of honesty and integrity in his office. Arnett's focus on good financial management has resulted in an overall savings of several million dollars of taxpayer money since taking office, the result of payroll changes such as elimination of travel allowances for many employees as well as his own and cost-cutting measures such as canceling plant watering contracts.
Immediately upon taking office, Foster Arnett initiated changes in staffing, eliminating paid annual leave for "Christmas shopping" days and employee birthdays, resulting in taxpayer savings of $154,000 per year. Mr. Arnett also reduced senior staff positions by four job titles for additional payroll savings. His administration established a policy of signature leave requests to increase accountability in the use of sick and annual leave and set a policy of reporting to work early and leaving after closing.
Mr. Arnett leads by example, coming in early and leaving late. He has made over 500 personal site inspections of the satellite offices since taking office, and continues to make site visits to all satellite offices as part of his regular weekly schedule. Office and division managers are held to a high standard and daily work is audited before and after being submitted to the Finance Department. Mr. Arnett brought the office into the 21st century by insisting on electronic communications to increase overall efficiency and accountability.
To motivate employees to excellent customer service, Mr. Arnett instituted an Employee of the Quarter program, established written job descriptions and revised the annual employee evaluation process, initiated a cross-training program to ensure maximum employee productivity and created a reporting system for daily transactions to increase accountability. A quarterly newsletter was established to keep all clerks abreast of developments in the Clerk's office. During his first four months in office, Arnett met with each employee to personally listen to their concerns and ideas for improvement. Mr. Arnett makes a point to send birthday cards to employees and to visit employees and their families during times of sickness and hospitalization.
As part of an ongoing policy to increase efficiency and customer service, Mr. Arnett has reorganized his Audit Department, bringing accountability through daily balancing requirements and more professional audit procedures. Supervisory training from sources such as the University of Tennessee, CTAS, Knox County Human Resources and elsewhere was instituted to empower managers in their roles as leaders and administrators.
Other avenues to excellence are constantly being explored. A new policy of using the Knox County Handbook sets a uniform standard for employees and managers alike. The Clerk's website has been updated and now offers more online services than ever before. Office inventory and bad check recovery have been decentralized to increase efficiency and customer convenience. Mr. Arnett is active in Clerk's associations throughout Tennessee, seeking new ideas for improvement in his service to Knox County and its citizens
Foster D. Arnett, Jr. is a native of Knox County and a graduate of the University of Tennessee. Mr. Arnett is an effective communications specialist with over 38 years of demonstrated success in investigating and reporting news, building relationships with media, government and businesses, and increasing awareness of relevant topics. He initiated and implemented a unique television program designed to increase awareness of the myths and dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse. While serving as the Public Information Officer for the Knoxville Police Department, Mr. Arnett founded the National Information Officer's Association in 1989. Currently over 700 members convene annually to analyze and develop practices for improving service to both the public and the governments they serve. Mr. Arnett has been a valuable asset to local business owners, meeting with them to assess crime-related problems in their areas. He devised a plan of action to work with the KPD to resolve issues and reduce crime in problem areas. Business owners reported dramatic drops in crime and substantial improvement in sales.
Mr. Arnett has wide-based business experience in Knox County. He worked in the commercial construction industry as Director of Business Development for Sequoyah Limited, LLC, a successful contractor in Knoxville. Due in part to Mr. Arnett's leadership, Sequoyah Limited's business increased over 600% in four years. Mr. Arnett was also the President of Corporate Communications for Digital Media 1, a business design and marketing company. As part of his efforts, he attracted bestselling author Patricia Cornwell as DM1's most high-profile client. Prior to running for Knox County Clerk, Mr. Arnett was the Public Information Officer for the Knoxville Police Department for 15 years.