Will the city get budget relief from Harrisburg before layoff notices go out Sept. 18?

If they do, it's going to be a photo finish.

Earlier this week, House Bill 1828 - the legislation that the city needs to avoid drastic budget cuts - was amended by the state Senate. So it went back to the state House of Representatives, where it needs another vote.

A spokesman for Mayor Nutter said yesterday that leaders in the House assured him that the vote would be Sept. 8.

"It's cutting it to the wire, but they've committed that Sept. 8 is our date," Doug Oliver said.

The legislation would allow the city to raise the sales tax temporarily and to defer some pension payments.

The revised bill also includes amendments that would set new standards for municipal pensions around the state, as well as require Philadelphia to freeze the pension plan and create a lower-cost plan for new city employees, which would have to be negotiated with municipal unions.

Nutter has asked the House to pass HB 1828 without amending it so that it be submitted for Gov. Rendell's signature.

If the state doesn't approve the city's budget requests - worth $700 million over five years - the mayor will have to implement a dire budget that would prompt layoffs of 3,000 city workers. That budget plan was submitted to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperative Authority yesterday and would be implemented in mid-September if there is no action in Harrisburg.

State House Speaker Keith McCall said yesterday that the legislation has some support in the Democratic caucus but that the bill was still being analyzed.

Staff writer John Baer contributed to this report.