Billionaire Won't Pay Tax Bill Due to 'Minefield of Poop'

Tom Golisano says infestation of geese is ruining his property, won't pay up until town fixes problem
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2018 10:45 AM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2018 6:54 AM CST
Billionaire Rebels Against Taxes—Over Goose Poop
In this 2017 photo, one feather of many found on the lawn of Tom Golisano's home on Canandaigua Lake in South Bristol, NY, is shown beside a sample of goose poop. The billionaire philanthropist says the hundreds of geese that have taken up residence on his lawn are making his property unusable.   (Olivia Lopez/Democrat & Chronicle via AP)

Billionaire Tom Golisano says he tried stringing up fishing line, spraying smelly repellent, and even posting a wolf decoy, but nothing could rid his New York lakeside vacation home of the Canada geese that turned his lawn into a minefield of poop. His next line of attack? Refusing to pay his $90,000 school tax bill until officials in the Finger Lakes town of South Bristol find a way to control the birds. "This past summer it was horrible. We'd drive in and find 100 to 200 geese parked on our lawn," Golisano, the 76-year-old founder of Paychex and ex-owner of the Buffalo Sabres, tells the AP. "You can't walk barefoot, can't play Frisbee, can't have your grandchildren run around. ... Here I am paying all this money in taxes and I can't use my property because of the geese droppings." Golisano's stand over bird poop is just one part of his one-man protest against a taxation system he believes is flawed and inequitable.

He's pledging to file a class-action suit on behalf of other upstate homeowners, and he recently launched to give taxpayers the tools to challenge their tax bills. "A lot of people are suffering significant injustice because of the assessment system," says Golisano, a three-time gubernatorial candidate. While his wife, tennis Hall of Famer Monica Seles, pays $4,000 a year or so on her NYC condo assessed at $800,000, Golisano said a home of that value in Rochester-area Monroe County would have a $28,000 bill. But South Bristol Town Supervisor Daniel Marshall rebuts Golisano's bird gripe. "It's a resident's problem to take care of, not the town's," he said. "It is a lake, after all." New York's DEC says when it's a community-wide problem, local officials may want to hire a "goose control officer" and devise a control plan. That's what Golisano wants. "It's the principle," he said.

(More Tom Golisano stories.)

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