Mayor Nutter might be anxious to catch his breath, given the bruising he has endured in Harrisburg over his months-long quest to balance this year's budget and stabilize Philadelphia's finances.

But a veteran government watchdog group has cautioned him against doing so, urging the mayor instead to jump behind an "aggressive transformation" of Philadelphia government.

". . . Short-term solutions to the city's budget crisis must be accompanied by bold reforms that will shrink and modernize local government," states a report to be released today by the nonpartisan Committee of Seventy.

Titled "Tackling True Reform," the report said: "The recession represents a moment of opportunity for Mayor Nutter to begin to achieve long-term structural reforms that normally would be strangled by inertia or politics - if he has the will and the skills."

To be sure, the struggle in Harrisburg is not over. The Senate could vote this week on a $700 million relief package that would help Philadelphia close a gap in its five-year budget. However, if major issues arise, no vote may occur until next week, a spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi said yesterday.

The House already approved the measure, which calls for a temporary sales-tax hike and deferment of payments into the city pension fund.

The mayor's "got to feel worn out a bit and beat up, and he also faces labor negotiations, so I think it would be very tempting for him or anyone else to not want to face up to the really big problems," Zack Stalberg, the committee's president and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

But that would be a mistake, he said.

"It's really a question of do you take advantage of everything that has occurred up until this point, or do you become a victim of it?"

Responding to the report, Patricia Enright, Nutter's deputy chief of staff, said, "It's clear several of its recommendations have long been priorities for the Nutter administration. That said, I think Philadelphians expect Mayor Nutter's attention today to be firmly on fighting for the future of this city" and passing the state legislation.

It has been months since Nutter or his deputy mayors have talked publicly about much of anything that is not budget-related. The mayor essentially spent his summer in Harrisburg, visiting more than 100 lawmakers' offices and trying to gather support for the city budget dollars.

The committee does not blame Nutter for his single-mindedness. But it voiced a concern that a failure now to push other priorities might make it more difficult for Philadelphia to regain its footing as the economy recovers.

Referring to the city's aging infrastructure, high poverty rate, and cumbersome tax structure, the report said, "In younger or less-troubled cities, postrecession growth will occur more naturally. Philadelphia is likely to have to claw its way back to prosperity."

In addition, Nutter - nearing the midway point of his first term - runs the risk of not fulfilling the promises he made to improve government operations that characterized his 2007 election campaign.

"Chipping away at the edges of reform will cost the city - and the mayor who was elected on his continuously repeated promise to turn City Hall upside down - the chance to become a national model for ingenuity and best practices," the report said. "Seizing the moment will require leadership. As the ultimate decider and dealmaker, that job primarily falls to Mayor Nutter."

The proposals include reducing the cost and size of city government; fixing how property taxes are assessed; evaluating the need and functions of the city's four independently elected row offices; consolidating city housing agencies; and improving the 311 call system to generate greater savings.

The report acknowledged the many obstacles that exist, including political realities that could make change difficult. For instance, without the approval of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, who chairs Philadelphia's Democratic Party, "reforming the [Bureau of Revision of Taxes] or eliminating the row offices will be impossible."

As the committee notes, many of the report's proposals had been put forth before. Stalberg said the point was to reiterate the importance of addressing these matters now.

"Is it important to refocus on what he got elected on? I think so," said City Councilman James F. Kenney, a Nutter ally. "It was a good message, a good year. We won the World Series, we can do it again. We have to generate some energy, some enthusiasm, instead of this constant downer."