So what does it cost to strut?

In this year's Mummers Parade, the answer is $75,222.23.

That's the estimate of total expenses parade organizers must pay the city to hold their 111th annual New Year's Day event - and it's far less than it would have cost if organizers had to pay for police overtime.

Last year's estimate of city services totaled $347,000, but the Mummers did not have to pay most of it because the city made special arrangements after the Mummers argued they had too little notice of the city's new policy requiring parade organizers to start paying the city for police and cleanup services.

Police costs, though, are now cut out permanently because of a recent City Council bill.

As a result, this year the biggest expense is the one city officials were touting last week as helping to make the 2011 parade more family friendly than ever: $24,180 for portable toilets and labor.

There's also an anticipated charge of $19,703 from the Fire Department for emergency medical services; $15,566 for cleaning up; and $12,757 for the city's Public Property Department to provide 700 barricades.

The cheapest aspect of the Mummers Parade: $504 to the Health Department for food-service inspections.

Bon appetit!

- Marcia Gelbart

Nutter is ready to run

Mayor Nutter may not face an opponent in his May primary race, but his reelection campaign is wasting no time ramping up.

"The Philadelphia Congressional Delegation Supports Michael Nutter for Mayor," read the headline in a news release to reporters last week.

Nutter's support - from U.S. Reps. Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Allyson Schwartz - was hardly a surprise as the trio has worked amicably with the mayor (even though Brady and Fattah were among his primary challengers in 2007).

With Brady serving also as chair of Philadelphia's Democratic Party and Fattah an influential West Philadelphia player in getting out Election Day votes, their backing seemed aimed at sending a message to anyone considering getting into the race.

As for Nutter, his campaign last week hired a communications director: Sheila Simmons, former education director oft Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

He is also soon to hire a campaign manager and reestablish campaign headquarters at the same 15th and Chestnut Street location he used four years ago.

With the primary less than five months out, "It is time to let other people and interested parties know we are launching a campaign," Simmons said. "Why wait?"

- Marcia Gelbart

Council makes cuts

In the season of giving, Heard in the Hall is happy to give City Council credit when it's due. Council has been roundly criticized for defending its own perks, from retirement benefits to city cars, and has at times seemed tone deaf to the global recession.

But there's nothing tone deaf about cutting your own budget. Council reduced its spending by nearly 8 percent in the 2009-10 budget.

The numbers have yet to be fully audited, but it looks like the $13.5 million Council spent in 2009-10 is 7.6 percent less than it spent the previous year and the least since 2005-06. Council's majority whip, Darrell L. Clarke, credited tight-fisted Council President Anna C. Verna for turning down spending requests that were once routinely approved, and a number of Council members, including Clarke, have left positions open in their offices.

In a second round of holiday cheer, politicians love to do good deeds for the holidays, like hold toy giveaways, provide free meals, or call a halt to foreclosure sales, as did Council members Jannie L. Blackwell and Curtis Jones Jr.

But none can match Blackwell for her traditional Christmas party for the less fortunate, which is so big it's held at the Convention Center. Last Monday, Blackwell shattered her previous record by serving dinner to 4,000 people and distributing 3,000 toys. Blackwell was sobered by the success: "That just means people are still hurting," she said.

- Jeff Shields