There is no free lunch

To the Editor,

In the March 2016 edition of Mid-county Memo, Jim Stewart authored the article “Halsey/Weidler couplet work update”. This item contains the following statement: “The direct cost of the freshly designed trash cans and benches is $0, since the design work, material and labor cost, including installation, was borne by a PDC grant …”

I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Probably only in a government project will something cost “$0” because it is being paid out of the left pocket instead of the right pocket. I don’t think that your publisher would think that newsprint costs “$0” because you paid for it out of the advertising budget instead of the operating budget.

Perhaps Mr. Stewart can contact Mr. Tom Badrick, the chair of Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors, or the project manager at PDC and determine the “real” cost of these items.

Mike Thompson

Parkrose Heights resident


Yes, there is

Editor’s note: Stewart did contact Badrick and asked him to explain how he arrived at that zero-cost figure for the trash cans and benches. Badrick unequivocally stands behind his $0 direct cost for the street furniture. He estimates the bench’s material and labor cost at $2,200 and its fair market value at $4,500 or likely more, since it is a unique design. However, Badrick says it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. “Making a community look better raises image/perception, which makes people more willing to generate revenue, raise property values, makes people feel better about their community, etc.,” Badrick said in an email.

Badrick says he wrote the grants and secured the tax-increment financing money from PDC. If those funds aren’t used in Gateway, that money devolves to PDC’s general fund. According to Badrick, this has occurred, and he says he’s committed to not letting it happen again (PDC’s Susan Kuhn said that’s not what happens to unused grant money). Thus, he spends untold time writing grants and managing projects in the Gateway and surrounding neighborhoods. He also points out that cleanliness and aesthetics within the Halsey-Weidler couplet promote business and business growth therein, effectively producing a real return on our regional tax-based investment.