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Saint John's council has said a property tax increase to help pay down the deficit is not on the table. (CBC)

A meeting involving Saint John municipal workers fell apart Friday as unions tried to hammer out a deal with the city over the huge deficit owed to the city's employee pension plan.

Their task was to come up with a collective position to deal with the pension crisis, but the meeting quickly ended because of differences between the unions.

Representatives from several of the groups then held an impromptu meeting Friday afternoon with city manager Pat Woods.

The city's 900 employees have been asked to bear a large share of the burden in the struggle to solve Saint John's $123-million pension shortfall.

Jamie Hachey, president of the Saint John Police Association, said they put forward what he calls "creative solutions" to Woods that would go a long way toward solving the pension crisis without requiring major concessions from workers.

"Dialogue was positive, everyone in the room is optimistic," said Hachey.

City council has said there will not be a property tax increase to help pay down the deficit, potentially putting much of the burden on city employees.

Saint John has the highest property tax rate in the province and a municipal election is just eight months away.

After a meeting last week, one union leader said neither the city nor the province, which oversees public pension plans in New Brunswick, is being asked to give up anything while expecting workers to deal with the burden.

Talks are scheduled to continue next week.