Golisano airs grievances on property assessments, geese

May 22, 2018

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Paychex founder Tom Golisano challenged his property tax assessment Tuesday afternoon as part of the annual statewide Grievance Day.

Golisano was the first to challenge his assessment right at 4 p.m., carrying with him a life-size plastic goose as a visual aid. The philanthropist and billionaire now has his primary residence in Florida.

His presentation had two parts, referring to the issue he has with the way property taxes are assessed, and the issue of geese on his lawn.

"I mean imagine not having your grandchildren be able to come down to the lake because if they run around on that lawn, they’re going to track that stuff into the house. And the average goose defecates two pounds a day ... two pounds a day, can you imagine how big that is if you have 100-200 geese on your property?" Golisano told the assessment board.

He says they've tried decoys, fishing twine and spraying the lawn, but nothing has deterred the animals, and he claims the town has done nothing to help him.

This is why he continues to withhold $145,000 in taxes to the town of South Bristol, and wants to challenge the amount he pays due to his lawn being unusable.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

“This problem began to exist after June 1, so my assessment period was already established," Golisano stated. "So now I have all this damage to my property, and I can’t change my assessment, I have to pay the full year's taxes."

But the town assessment board said this isn’t the forum for these issues, and that the town just follows the guidelines that are set by the state. They can listen, and make decisions about his taxes, but they can’t change the rules or really fix the goose problem.

Ideally, Golisano says he would like to be able to call the local police whenever he saw geese on his lawn from his camera while he’s in his Florida home, or have the cost of a groundskeeper deducted from his taxes.

"If you owned a piece of property down on the lake and you were home in Rochester, and people came to the property and had a picnic on it, what would you do?" Golisano asked. "You'd call the county sheriff, right? 'Cause they’re trespassing on your property. Well, why can’t I do that with geese?"

Geese on lawn
Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

The hearing strayed from these topics toward the end; friends of Golisano’s added comments in what wasn’t an open forum. A neighbor compared the geese to immigrants from Mexico, but the question still remains, whose job is it to manage the goose problem on Golisano’s property?