A “welcome to Hamilton” sign that had some councillors balking at its estimated $230,000 price tag might end up being cheaper than expected, says the businesswoman who has been pushing for the project.

In recent months, PR professional Laura Babcock has been working with city manager Chris Murray and inviting businesses and residents to give to the Welcome to Hamilton partner program.

'The whole goal was to raise awareness — not to fund it.'- Laura Babcock, Powergroup Communications

But those invitations to businesses have been suspended, Babcock says, now that the city has begun preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Transportation on the sign. “They’re optimistic they can bring costs down,” Babcock said. Representatives from the city could not be reached for comment Monday. “I get the sense from them that this might be something they can handle internally,” she said.

Babcock says that outside financial contributions now “might not be necessary.”

“This is a city project. All I was trying to do was nudge them forward on it,” she said. “The whole goal was to raise awareness — not to fund it.”

An online crowdfunding campaign to help fund the project has also been suspended. Contributions to the campaign had stalled, with just $350 raised since the beginning of June.

Some city councillors have balked at the cost of putting a welcome sign at Highway 403 and 6 in advance of the 2015 Pan Am Games. The original staff report on the sign showed it would cost a maximum of $230,000 to build. Babcock says she expects a lower figure when the issue comes back to the city’s general issues committee on July 9.

City staff are still examining ways to reduce the cost, including tweaking the design of eight pale steel letters that was chosen in a public poll in 2008.