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Saint John Mayor Mel Norton admits time is running out to pass the 2013 budget. (CBC)

Saint John council is running out of time to pass its 2013 budget before the end of the year.

A planned budget debate was set aside for Wednesday, but instead, council spent almost six hours behind closed doors trying to tie up loose ends surrounding the pension reform deal.

Council's closed-door meeting began at 4 p.m.

A public session in the council chambers was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. But it was almost 10 p.m. before that meeting started and it broke for a recess after less than two minutes.

When the meeting wrapped up almost an hour later, council had met for less than six minutes in open session.

But in that time they accepted — without public discussion — the terms of a memorandum of understanding on the pension deal, and agreed to a temporary arrangement for disability insurance for city workers

The 2013 budget, which was also on the agenda, didn't make the cut

Mayor Mel Norton hasn't entirely given up on passing that budget before year end, as promised, but he admits time is running out.

"There's obviously some uncertainty because we don't have the RFP piece completed yet."

That request for proposals will show how much council needs to set aside next year for disability insurance.

But getting that number may be impossible over the holidays.