Indeed, the situation is so dire that at least one council member, Bernard Parks, has floated the idea of re-directing trash fees that were supposed to pay for new cops to the general fund. Apparently L.A. can afford a lavish new police headquarters; it just can’t afford the police officers to put inside it. Funny how things always work that way in City Hall: An extra $40 million to help beautify the downtown skyline? Sure thing! Need $300 million to boost salaries for city employees, whose unions just so happen to bankroll council members’ campaigns? You’ve got it! But when it comes to paving sidewalks, relieving traffic, hiring cops, trimming trees or meeting any of the other basic requirements of municipal government, suddenly cash is in short supply. The people have to make do with less, agree to more taxes, or – as is usually the case – both. In three months, city leaders are going to ask the public to approve a 9 percent phone tax, citing their supposed poverty. They call it a cut from the current illegal 10 percent tax, but don’t want to mention the measure extends the tax to Voice Over Internet Protocol, text messaging and every other form of telecommunications imaginable. When you go to vote on this tax, remember how city leaders casually tacked $40 million more to the Parker Center Project on Tuesday. Is this a group that really needs more of your money, let alone deserves it?160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre Is there a person alive who thinks the costs – especially given Tutor-Saliba’s history of price creep – won’t eventually hit the half-billion mark? What’s remarkable is that at the very time city leaders think nothing of spending tens of millions more on a monument to their municipal mismanagement, they’re pleading poverty. They’re so short of cash, they say, that they need to pass an “emergency” tax on telephones. They’re so poor, they argue, that they need to hike rates on water and power, then raid money from the crumbling public utility to help keep the city’s books balanced. And because of their great financial hardship, they insist, they have no choice but to cut city services this year. `IF the city is lucky,” we wrote in an editorial back in July of 2006, “it would get its new police HQ for just $400 million when all is said and done.” For all those wondering, no, the city of Los Angeles is not lucky. On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved another increase in the cost for the new Parker Center. The latest price tag is $437 million – an 80 percent increase from the time of that 2006 editorial, when the highly connected firm of Tutor-Saliba got the contract on a $243 million bid. Of course, that was already up $43 million, or 22 percent, from the $200 million that City Hall had budgeted for the project. And the latest estimate of $437 million is nearly triple the amount city leaders originally predicted when they unveiled plans for the new downtown structure.