Plans to re-site the statue of Birmingham Industrial Revolution giants Boulton, Watt and Murdoch have been suspended after city council officials said it would cost £147,000 to move the work of art to Centenary Square.
The figure, described as "astronomical" by council leisure chief John Alden, is in addition to a £55,000 bill for regilding the statue - taking the total cost to £202,000.
Coun Alden (Con Harborne), cabinet spokesman for leisure, sport and culture, ordered an inquiry into the financial estimates which were prepared by the council's urban design unit.
Coun Alden said: "We have already spent a lot of money regilding the statue, which is in storage. But the suggestion that it will cost £147,000 to place it on a plinth with some railings around is a scandal."
Regilding work took place in April last year by conservation experts at Telford. It was intended that the finished item should be placed on the spot in Centenary Square previously occupied by the Forward statue, which was destroyed by vandals. The statue was supposed to be at its new home by Christmas 2004.
The decision not to approve the £147,000 re-siting cost was being described last night by the council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as an example of a new and realistic attitude toward public spending.
The full council yesterday approved a 2.8 per cent council tax increase for 2005/06 - about 50p a week on average bills.
Tory council leader Mike Whitby promised "robust fiscal policies" and outlined proposals for £40 million of efficiency savings over the next three years.
Coun Whitby appealed to the council's 57,000 workforce to get behind the coalition. In a message designed to challenge the notion that they instinctively support Labour, Coun Whitby told them to now enjoy the "tingle of success".
He claimed the previous Labour council leadership had stifled innovation, adding: "This has crushed the independent spirit of our staff who do nothing without approval from the highest authority.
In consequence, our managers have not been able to manage properly and there are grotesque examples of the consequences scattered across the city."
But the coalition budget was described by Labour opposition leader Sir Albert Bore as "rhetoric devoid of ideas and issues".
Sir Albert (Ladywood) said additional spending on education and social services had only been made possible by a generous £73.5 million Government grant to Birmingham. In addition, the level of efficiency savings proposed was no greater than that put forward by Labour a year ago.
Sir Albert's alternative budget, which would have seen a council tax increase of 1.5 per cent, was rejected.