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Golisano withholds $90,000 school tax payment because too many geese are on his lawn

Oct 23, 2017

Tom Golisano's lake home property
Credit Tom Golisano

Tom Golisano, Paychex founder and local philanthropist announced Monday that he will be withholding a $90,000 tax payment until the town of South Bristol fixes the geese problem at his lakeside property.

Golisano says the town government in South Bristol has not done enough to help combat this problem. He said geese have always been an issue here, but were manageable in recent years.

This summer at times, he said he’s seen 200 geese on his Canandaigua lake house lawn, leaving behind feathers and waste.

"Can you invite your grandchildren to play in your yard? No, because you can’t take two steps without stepping in something. Can you have a picnic? Well if you stay in the house, you can. So you can see it’s a really tough issue to deal with."

He believes the geese chose his lawn because of the expanse of green space and the fact that no one lives there full time; and he is asking the town to make his May property tax assessment retroactive since his property is “unusable.”

That $90,000 is for school taxes, but Golisano doesn’t think his withheld payment will affect his district too much.

"I don’t think the Naples School District will go on stop just because of my $90,000. Their budget is fairly significant. They might have to cut back a little something, but I don't think it will stop business."

Golisano said the bigger issue is with real estate taxes in Western New York.

He said he realizes there is a risk in taking the issue to this public level, but believes it’s still worth it.

"I don’t think people will have a ton of sympathy, here he is with his financial status and he's not paying his real estate taxes? On the other side of the coin, I think I've done a lot for this community and I think these small towns have continued to stick it to me. And I think it’s time that changed."

He was referencing other tax battles he’s fought, reassessing family homes in Mendon and Victor to lower annual taxes.

Taxes on Golisano’s 2,900 square foot lake house are $132,000 annually.

The Naples School District Superintendent Matt Frahm released a statement Monday afternoon saying they "fully appreciate" Mr. Golisano’s concern, and are hopeful that he and the Town of South Bristol can find a remedy to the situation.