In the Kennewick and Richland police and fire departments, it isn't uncommon for some employees to earn more than their bosses.
It all comes down to overtime pay.
The leadership, including police and fire chiefs, gets no overtime no matter how many hours they work, said Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner.
Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians are represented by unions, with overtime pay set by contracts.
Skinner, who has been with the department for about three years, earned less than four of his sergeants last year because of overtime pay, according to data requested by the Herald.
Skinner's salary was $126,000, while the sergeants earned between $128,000 to $134,000 in base pay, holiday pay and overtime. That includes between $22,000 and $32,000 in overtime for each.
Grant Baynes, Richland's fire chief, was paid less in base pay last year than five of his staff, including battalion chiefs and a fire captain.
Baynes was paid about $136,000, while those five employees were paid between $142,000 and $153,000. They each earned between $24,000 to $30,000 in overtime.
Kennewick Fire Chief Neil Hines, who earned about $134,000 last year, was paid about $7,000 less than one of his battalion chiefs because of overtime. Three other fire employees -- two battalion chiefs and a captain/paramedic -- were within $2,000 of Hines' salary, according to the data.
Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg actually was paid more last year than those he supervises, with a base salary of about $144,000. He also serves as the deputy city manager.
But three Kennewick police sergeants earned more than two of the police commanders who are second in command after Hohenberg.
Hohenberg and Hines feel they are fairly compensated for what they do and are in leadership positions by choice, they said.
Most who are in higher-level management could find jobs in the private sector that would pay more, Hohenberg said.
"Part of the fulfillment is the job satisfaction you get from serving the community," he said.