City salaries reveal some employees make more than department heads

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When it comes to work, you might think the higher your position, the higher your pay.

Not at the Honolulu Fire Department.

Currently, assistant chiefs make more money than deputy chiefs, even though they’re lower in rank, and the department wants to change that.

It’s asking the city’s salary commission to bump up the pay for deputies and the fire chief to establish a 5-percent pay gap between the positions, so deputies would get paid about $10,000 more and the fire chief would get paid $11,000 more.

Salary
Fire Chief$176,304
Fire Deputy$168,144
Employees (3)$170,100
Employee (1)$169,330

We did some digging and found out the Honolulu Fire Department isn’t the only city agency where department heads are getting paid less than the people under them.View the full breakdown here.

Honolulu Mayor Caldwell leads the city, but at $164,928 a year, he’s not the city’s highest-paid employee.

That honor goes to the medical examiner, Dr. Christopher Happy, who makes $247,464 a year. Even the deputy medical examiner gets paid more than the mayor at $219,600.

Honolulu’s police chief, fire chief, and their deputies also make more than the mayor.

Even within the city’s departments, some employees make more than the department heads and we’re only talking about base salaries, which does not include overtime pay.

In the Department of Planning and Permitting, which handles building permits, there’s are three employees making more than the department’s head and deputy director.

In the Department of Environmental Services, which is in charge of the city’s waste system, there are three employees making more than their higher-ups, including one who makes $20,000 more.


Salary
Director$147,360
Deputy$139,824
Environmental Services% more than director% more than deputy
Employee (1)$166,48412.9819.07
Employee (1)$156,1715.9811.69
Employee (1)$144,589-1.883.41
Planning and Permitting
Employee (1)$158,3577.4613.25
Employee (2)$152,9363.789.38

In 2015, the salary commission approved pay raises for department heads and deputies to take care of this imbalance, which it calls salary inversion. Even with directors and deputies getting a roughly 5-percent pay raise last fiscal year, it’s still an issue.

As for HFD’s request, we’ll follow up to see if that gets approved.

The Honolulu Police Department had that issue in the past in which assistant chiefs made more than deputy chiefs, but that’s no longer the case. According to the city, the highest paid civil service subordinate makes $170,000.

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