The city will spend $230,000 to erect a gateway sign at Highways 6 and 403, but some say it’s too high of a price to pay.

The sign will have large white letters mounted on concrete that spell out “Hamilton,” along with some trees around it. But Coun. Sam Merulla said when he voted in favour of a gateway sign last year, he thought it would cost more like $50,000.

“I just can’t rationalize or justify this kind of expenditure,” said Merulla, who called spending the money “totally irresponsible.”

“We’re taking a naturally beautiful area and sticking up a sign.”

Council voted in September to put up a gateway sign in advance of the 2015 Pan Am Games. Laura Babcock, a community activist and owner of a local public relations firm, pitched the idea. She also started a social media campaign called #Time4Sign.

“We’re missing out on thousands of brand impressions every day,” she said.

City staff identified five potential spots for signs, including Highway 403 at Alberton Road, the QEW at Fifty Road, the QEW at the Red Hill Valley Parkway and Highway 6 at Freelton.

The design was chosen in a public vote in 2008.

Merulla and councillors Chad Collins, Judi Partridge and Robert Pasuta voted against moving ahead, preferring it be referred to the 2015 budget process. The other seven councillors at the meeting voted in favour.

The sign will be designed from May to July. The city hopes to get Ministry of Transportation Ontario approval between July and February, with the sign installed between April and July 2015.

City council will vote to ratify the decision next Wednesday.