Golisano refuses to pay $90K in school tax over Canada Geese problem

October 23, 2017 06:43 PM

Paychex founder Tom Golisano, the richest man in our community with an estimated value of $3 billion, is refusing to pay his $90,000 school tax bill. The reason is because he says he has a severe problem with geese on his Canandaigua Lake property and the small town of South Bristol won't do anything to fix it. 

Mr. Golisano has gone to war over his taxes and assessments and he's won every single time. But this is the first time he's withheld money because his town won't solve a goose problem.

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The house on Canandaigua Lake is 2,900 square feet. The property taxes -- which include town, county and school district taxes -- are $132,000 a year. Mr. Golisano thinks that is way too much money to pay when you've got a problem that makes the outside unusable.

There were no geese when I was on the lakefront property Monday, but their evidence is everywhere. Mr. Golisano share pictures of the gaggle geese on his land. He says one day he counted 200 on his land.

"That's the problem we're going to talk about," Mr. Golisano said as he showed me a slide show of pictures at his office in Pittsford. Because the town of South Bristol and New York State won't help him with the geese, he's not paying his school tax.

Tom Golisano, withholding school tax over geese: "Here are the checks, they're dated and they're covered, believe me. They're just not going to be delivered."
Berkeley Brean: "I just have a feeling that when our viewers watch this, they're not going to have a ton of sympathy."
Tom Golisano: "I agree. I don't think a lot of 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 these small towns have continued to stick it to me. And I think it's time that changed. I understand there's a risk that people are going to think this is kind of cheap of me. I don't care. I think it's a real cause and a real battle that needs to be fought and I'm going to fight it."

Mr. Golisano's beef is with the town of South Bristol and the state. The town supervisor declined to talk on camera. But Mr. Golisano isn't holding back his town, county or state tax. He's refusing to pay his school tax.

Brean: "That money pays for teachers and school supplies."
Golisano: "Yeah, I know."
Brean: "And custodians. And school bus drivers."
Golisano: "I know. Do you think I should feel guilty about that? You think I should feel guilty about paying $132,000 a year for a 2,900 square foot house? No."
Brean: "I'm wondering if you feel responsible that that money pays for a significant amount of things that children will use in that town."
Golisano: "Well maybe if it gets their attention, it'll be worth it."

I went to the Naples school superintendent's office. Matt Frahm told me he had no idea this was happening so he declined my invitation to talk on-camera.

Click here to read the Superintendent's message on the district's website. 

Mr. Golisano is already facing an $1,800 fine because he didn't pay by by October 2. If he doesn't pay by Halloween it goes up to $2,700. 

I reached out to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and asked if there are any state plans that can help homeowners deal with geese.

Here is what the State DEC sent me via email: 

Although the State does not remove nuisance geese on private property, options for goose control in New York include deterrents to exclusion, harassment, and various lethal methods. For more information, visit

There is a federal depredation order in effect that allows for taking of Canada geese nests by homeowners.  Nuisance Wildlife Control Officers (NWCOs) could also be hired to help with excluding/harassing the geese. 

Homeowners can allow goose hunters on their property during the hunting season, apply for a nuisance permit, or hire USDA to remove the birds. In addition, DEC recommends that homeowners contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for further assistance.


Berkeley Brean

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