Can Nutter fix his relationship with City Council?

If the typically fractious Council found unity, it can thank Nutter for the outrage he sparked during his budget address in March, when he railed about city-issued cars and the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).

Councilman Bill Green characterized Nutter's opening budget moves as an "attack."

"I think it was a surprise that basically the approach started out as confrontational rather than, as the mayor likes to say, 18 people pulling the boat in the same direction," Green said.

The budget compromise that Council forced on Nutter in May puts more of the city's fiscal future in the hands of the Legislature.

Any approval of city finances by the state would have to be part of a larger state budget, now the source of a rancorous battle between Gov. Rendell and legislative Republicans over budget cuts and a proposed increase in the state income tax.

Without that approval, the city will have to make local budget cuts that Nutter calls "dire," including police layoffs, further elimination of Fire Department equipment and a reduction in trash pickup.

"We may be back here in August," Councilman Jim Kenney said about the potential need for another budget. "Who knows?"

While waiting for Harrisburg to approve a 1-cent increase in the city's sales tax and changes to how the pension fund is replenished, Nutter is seeking $125 million in concessions from municipal unions. The city's largest union, District Council 33, won't even meet with negotiators if contract cuts are proposed.