A secret proposal for Hamilton City Council to purchase more property on Victoria St overlooking the river has been pulled - for now.
But one city councillor fears it's a sign more big ticket items could be pushed through council prior to the local government elections next month.Hamilton City Council voted to defer a proposal to purchase a riverside property on Victoria St from its agenda last month.
The pulled proposal follows a controversial move last year for the council to spend $6.5m for five properties on Victoria St - up to 56 per cent more than the recommended market valuation for most of them.
The Herald understands the latest proposal was for council to purchase neighbouring riverside apartments at 240 Victoria St. The council currently owns buildings between 242 and 266 Victoria St.
The item was discussed in public excluded and Hamilton City Council chief executive Richard Briggs would not even reveal if the item was pulled or deferred and why.
Mayoral candidate and councillor Angela O'Leary said she was horrified to see mayor Andrew King was trying to push another "enormous purchase" of more buildings through just before an election despite strong opposition to the purchases last year.
"The public need to be aware that the current mayor on the eve of an election was happy to bring a report on the purchasing of yet more buildings on Victoria St."
In its 10-year-plan the council budgeted $7 million on buildings to support the mayor's vision to create a massive park opening the city to the river.
There is $494,000 left in the approved budget, but Briggs said the balance of the funds have been identified as savings and no properties had been identified for purchase with the remainder.
King told the Herald he could not comment because it was discussed in public excluded, but posted on O'Leary's Facebook page that there had been no agreement to purchase the buildings or any resolution to defer the item in November.
He also accused O'Leary of misleading the public.
"It is this type of politicking that undermines trust in council," he posted.
Councillor Rob Pascoe said a full report was included in the agenda prior to the council voting against hearing it.
Pascoe said the mayor and deputy mayor would have been aware about the report about a month prior to it going before council as part of the agenda setting process so questioned why the mayor didn't pull it earlier.
Pascoe said there was no money earmarked for buying further properties so was not sure where the money would have come from.
Councillor James Casson, who is also standing for mayor, said he along with a number of councillors did not support the purchase of the first lot of buildings last year and would be dead against any further purchases.
"I thought it was crazy buying those inner city buildings to begin with and buying more - it just doesn't make sense to me."
He also believed anyone who supported buying more buildings would have been committing political suicide.
But councillor Geoff Taylor posted on O'leary's page that it was just a proposal and didn't mean that council was going to do it.
"We're not doing your job if we can't even consider proposals which might be useful to the city."
Councillor Dave Macpherson said the owners approached staff about purchasing the property and the council agreed it was a stupid time for it to be discussed. He expected it to be brought up by the new council depending on who was appointed mayor.