Sarnia will be getting an unexpected gift from an unusual source this year.
The Sarnia Police Service is giving back a $280,000 budget surplus to city coffers because the department ended 2011 with some extra money mainly due to changes in staffing.
Five police officers retired or resigned last year which let the department hire new recruits at a lower pay rate.
The service went for 11 months without an inspector, saving more money in the process. There are also two officers on long-term disability and one on maternity leave.
Those staffing conditions along with lower than expected bills for statutory holidays and other benefits led the savings. The department also spent less on natural gas than budgeted and those savings were also factored.
The city is expected to place the surplus money in reserves, which the police service can access if any of its equipment breaks down unexpectedly.