Months ago, many City Council members said the two issues were the most pressing as the July 1 start of the council year began. Three months later, the budget has been conquered but pension reform remains elusive.
Among several of his colleagues Tuesday, council member Greg Anderson called it "the single biggest issue we have got to address."
Anderson called a noticed meeting with Council President Bill Gulliford to address goals for the rest of the council's year. The two were joined by council Vice President Clay Yarborough, Lori Boyer and Robin Lumb.
Anderson brought a list of a dozen or so ideas. Receiving the most discussion was the pension issue and work of a task force charged with finding recommendations.
"We just can't wait for this thing to slowly evolve," Gulliford told the group. "It's consuming us."
The unfunded pension liability accumulated for the Police and Fire Pension Fund sits at about $1.7 billion. The city contributed $148 million in the current budget, a number that annually increases by millions.
Lumb said Mayor Alvin Brown's framework for a solution has been "all over the place."
Brown's initial proposal from March was rejected by council and the task force he created is now receiving assistance from the Pew Foundation — more waiting.
"We're locked in place here," he said.
Gulliford said Pew officials told him there would be recommendations to the task force and report by year-end.
"Let's remind ourselves pension reform isn't our job," Lumb said.
"I know that, but we can't ignore it," Gulliford responded, followed by an audible sigh.
The group also discussed a committee Gulliford will create to review the past budget and better prepare council for next year's budget by digging deeper into city departments and functions.
Yarborough will chair the committee, which will start at the beginning of the year, so council members are more familiar with departments before next year's budgeting process.
Until then, Yarborough will lead another committee he will form to complete the second part of Brown's reorganization, which has been deferred since March with council wanting to wait for the budget process to end.
The reorganization renames and combines several department functions among its lengthy restructuring of portions of the executive branch. For example, Parks and Recreation would take over preservation and waterfront parks and the city would add a Public Works director of operations.
Also on Anderson's list was a review of the Public Service Grants, nonprofit funding and the Jacksonville Journey, all of which had lengthy discussion on the budget review floor. Anderson said he "would like to see the restart button hit on those."
On the public service grant side, discussion focused on how each organization was or wasn't funded. As for the Jacksonville Journey, it has continued to lose funding each year and many responsibilities were shifted elsewhere.
Two council committees, Recreation and Community Development and Public Health and Safety, could soon see the issues within the city's Municipal Code Compliance department on their plates.
"Something is not working," Anderson said, referring to a policy that has resulted in properties becoming run down and not fixed.
Boyer said the city policy has been to place liens and not pursue foreclosure on those liens, because it doesn't want to be the land owner nor have such responsibility.
Deciding whether the city should pursue foreclosures on such properties could be a topic of conversation.
But, as of now, Anderson said there are too many properties that aren't remedied.
"There's something in the policy that allows it," Anderson said.
Gulliford said he will review Anderson's list of goals, add his own notes and then submit it to the rest of council.
With the budget done, Anderson said it's time to coordinate.
"I feel like it's time for us to get on the same page," he said.
Balancing the city budget and solving the city's dire need for pension reform.