Negotiations between the city and the Mummers must reach a conclusion Thursday and plans for the parade must begin by Friday if there's any chance to have one, Mayor Nutter's spokesman Doug Oliver said.

With the city budget in a bind, the mayor's office said it has no plans to increase the $300,000 slated for the event - a fact made clear during last night's 2 1/2-hour meeting with the Mummers' officials.

"It's not like you can make a decision on the [Dec.] 31st for the [Jan.] 1st," Oliver said.

Both sides plan to meet again tomorrow.

In 2 1/2 weeks, the Mummers will hit the streets for their festive New Year's tradition. But with the shrinking financial contributions from the city, there might be radical changes to a vibrant and colorful 107-year-old tradition.

Representatives from the Mummers admit they'll feel a pinch, but are willing to meet the challenges.

"The Mummers will still put on a beautiful pageantry. Nothing is going to be affected on that end," said John Pignotti, president of the association.

He said he will disclose details, such as fundraising tactics and planning, at a later date.

The city funded the entire $1 million cost of last year's parade, Oliver said.

In light of the economic crisis, the amount is more than fair, he said.

"We gave particular consideration to the Mummers," said Oliver. "The city is making sacrifices across the board."

The Mummers are also expected to pay for expenses associated with city services - such as police overtime, public property and emergency medical services - that might exceed the allotted amount, said Oliver.

"We're not in the position to give any more," he said.

To curb expenses, the mayor suggested the parade be shortened to 6 1/2 hours, down from the usual nine (which does not include the 12-hour rain-delay window). Both sides want to keep the traditional parade route up Broad Street.

Under the administration's plan, there also would be no post-parade celebration on 2nd Street.

Oliver estimated the cost of the shorter parade to be $347,000.

"We are not dictating to the Mummers on the components of the parade. If they modify, they won't have to pay a thing," he said.

The city will not provide prize money for the clubs, which would have been $336,000 this year. *