There is still no answer to the awkward question that hangs over the city and the Mummers like unwanted mistletoe: How do you do a New Year's Day parade on the cheap?

The Mummers' Association yesterday postponed a meeting with Mayor Nutter that was supposed to have resolved the impasse over the upcoming parade.

The city has offered a take-it-or-leave-it contribution of $300,000 to cover the cost of police, medical, santiation and public-property services provided during the parade. Last year, the city paid about $760,000 for those services.

Mummers' Association George Badey reportedly postponed the meeting because he wanted a detailed breakdown of the costs.

Mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver said the purpose of the meeting would have been to provide those details. And so, the dance continues.

"We'll continue working with them to reschedule," Oliver said.

In a round of budget cuts that also claimed libraries, pools and firehouses, the city announced last month that it would not provide prize money for the parade: $336,000.

The city initially wanted the Mummers to also pick up the entire $760,000 city services tab. Nutter reconsidered and offered the $300,000, Oliver said.

It's widely assumed that the reduced contribution will translate into the parade route being cut in half.

"I don't want anybody to size this up as the Mummers vs. the city," Oliver said. "We want the parade to be here. They think it's a historical event, and we do, too." *