When you get your Calgary property tax increase, which is bound to happen after Mayor Jyoti Gondek and city council have their way with you, consider this for a moment.We all know we needed a new arena for the Calgary Flames. Love them or hate them. But couldn’t we not have gotten a better deal? A fair deal?According to Jeromy Farkas, a fundraiser, filmmaker, athlete, columnist and former politician, essentially we are paying 96% of the new arena.The Flames owners, are paying 4%. All this, under Gondek’s watch. Or non-watch. Take your pick. There isn’t a chance in hell, she’s got our backs.Talk about a big mistake. Perhaps the biggest in Calgary’s history. Those are my words, by the way.Farkas, who was interviewed by Angela Kokott on QR77 Friday, said we … that’s right … we, you and me bro … are paying the freight, big-time.For rich and powerful Flames owners. And rich hockey players.“Look, I think that we do need (an) arena. I think that there's going to be a lot of benefits from building an event centre, but I think if it's going to be tax dollars we're talking about, it needs to be fair,” said Farkas.“During my time on council, we arrived at a deal that not everyone was happy with … and to be clear, I did vote against it, but more or less it was fair. I think you had the Flames and Calgary city council putting in about equal amounts.”That has changed, of course and not for the good. In fact, it's a disaster.“Right now, it's so one-sided and it's astonishing to say, but actually the Flames are going to be putting in 4% of the upfront costs, just $40 million out of a $1.2 billion project, leaving taxpayers holding the bag for 96% of the cost.”“Meanwhile, the city's actually not getting any of that money back. We're not getting things like naming rights. We're not getting the ticket tax.” “So it's a bit disingenuous, I think, for again the mayor and council to plead poverty. They do have the money, but it's just about their choices. Right?”While not pointing the finger of blame at Gondek, Farkas says both progressives and so-called fiscal conservatives share responsibility for this deplorable deal.“You can't be for transit if you are for prioritizing an arena at the expense of more LRTs. And for the conservatives, you can't be for, say, a free market and try to strangle the ability to build new housing,” he says.“And you can't, I think, genuinely be a fiscal conservative if you're cutting preventative programs, things around mental health that'll actually save money.”“But the truth is that right now we're in a real crisis situation for a lot of people. Look at the safety issues on our transit system.”“It was just yesterday, it was revealed that a $100,000 take-home salary is not enough to provide for a family in Calgary. So we have more than a 100,000 Calgarians in 40,000 households who are on the brink of homelessness.”“So it's very frustrating to hear a lot of good talk about affordable housing, but when it comes to things that'll actually make a difference for people, council just doesn't seem willing to make it a priority.”Our daft city council, yet again. Should Calgarians pay more for taxes?Farkas says no.“When you think about surging unemployment, the inability for Calgarians to even make their current payments, I just find that it's a bit ridiculous to say that it's on Calgarians to pay more for really when it comes to decisions the council are making around these priorities,” he said.“It's easy to say $15 million for transit safety, but that's like 1% of what'll be spent on an arena. Right?”“It just comes back to priorities… sometimes it's a bit of a head scratcher to say that it's council making these tough calls. But at the end of the day, it's families who have to make ends meet.”“And when it comes to some of these businesses as well, with many of the big businesses in the oilpatch who are in an incredible financial position, to say that now is the time to give these big businesses a tax break so that everyday families are the ones having to pay hundreds of dollars more every year in property taxes.”“I think that that is a problem. And then secondarily, just because you rent a house doesn't mean that you don't have to pay for it in some fashion. It gets downloaded again to the people who can least afford it.”Questions need to be asked, says Farkas and they are not being asked. Nobody is in our corner. Nobody. “Nobody's really asking, well, how do we make ends meet with the resources that we do have? How do we keep growth to the inflation? Or how do we build smarter development? How do we make sure that suburban sprawl is curtailed in ways that we can actually make things more affordable for everybody?”“I get that the politicians want this to be a fight between the business owners and the residents and let them hash it out and bloody each other up,” said Farkas.“But I think ultimately it needs to be Calgary city council who's answering these tough questions about why are you letting a private for-profit business have their operation funded 96% by taxpayers so that they can reap 100% of the profit?"What then must we do, as Tolstoy once said?Can we revisit the arena deal? Is there a way out?“Well, part of the issue here is that so much of it was done behind closed doors and in secret. Even in my time on council, I sort of criticized the process. I criticized Mayor Nenshi at the time," said Farkas.Farkas says, it’s all about the land. In deals across North America, it’s very rarely about the rink or even the stadium itself.It’s about the opportunities for them to profit from public property that's being sold to them at very favourable rates.“I think it really just comes back to the say-do gap. What council says are important, things like say the climate emergency.”“It doesn't line up with their actual support of things like supporting the UCPs halt on renewables. They say that the housing affordability is a top priority, but then on the other hand, they'll say, well, it's just another couple hundred dollars a year.”“Well, at the minimum today, more than 100,000 Calgarians and 40,000 households are on the brink of homelessness. They're living beyond paycheque to paycheque.”Is there hope for Calgarians, in this fiscal mess? Farkas thinks so. Despite city council’s mismanagement.“I think that there's a moment where council could really capture, I think, the essence of who Calgarians are and I would describe them as largely, not everybody but I'd say largely, socially progressive and fiscally conservative. “But at this point, it's very hard for Calgarians to really understand why council is doing the things that they do.”Amen to that.