TENNIS great Monica Seles billionaire husband is refusing to pay a tax bill because he says the constant geese droppings covering his holiday home are lowering its value.
Monica Seles with husband Tom Golisano. The billionaire businessman is refusing to pay a tax bill over goose droppings. Picture: The Golisano FoundationSource:Supplied
US billionaire, and husband of tennis great Monica Seles, Tom Golisano, says he tried stringing up fishing line, spraying smelly repellent and even posting a wolf decoy, but nothing could rid his upstate New York holiday home of the Canada geese that turned his lawn into a minefield of poo.
His next line of attack? Refusing to pay a $100,000 tax bill until officials in the Finger Lakes town of South Bristol find a way to control the birds.
Monica Seles with husband Tom Golisano. Picture: The Golisano FoundationSource:Supplied
This past summer it was horrible. Wed drive in and find 100 to 200 geese parked on our lawn, said Mr Golisano, founder of payroll company Paychex and former owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team. You cant walk barefoot, cant play frisbee, cant have your grandchildren run around. … Here I am paying all this money in taxes and I cant use my property because of the geese droppings.
Mr Golisanos stand over bird poo is just one part of his one-man protest campaign against a taxation system he believes is flawed and inequitable. Hes pledging to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of other upstate homeowners who believe they are being overtaxed. And he recently launched a website, , to give ordinary taxpayers the tools to challenge their property tax bills.
Monica Seles with rival Steffi Graf in 1996. Picture: AP Photo/Kathy/WillensSource:AP
Monica Seles after she was stabbed on court by a Steffi Graf fan in 1993. Picture: SuppliedSource:AP
Mr Golisano contends that tax assessors often lack the training, time and expertise to accurately assign property values that determine what share of the local tax collection each homeowner pays.
A lot of people are suffering significant injustice because of the assessment system, said the 76-year-old Golisano, founding member of the New York Independence Party and three-time candidate for governor.
Escaping high taxes was part of the reason Mr Golisano changed his permanent home address to Naples, Florida, nearly a decade ago. In 2010, he spent $250,000 in legal fees to get the property taxes on his home in Mendon, near Rochester, reduced from $250,000 to $75,000.
Monica Seles and Tom Golisanos upstate New York home with the bird poo problem. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
He said western New York is notorious for high property taxes. While his wife, tennis Hall of Famer Monica Seles, pays about $5000 a year in taxes on her New York City apartment assessed at $1 million, Mr Golisano said a home with that assessed value in Rochester-area Monroe County would have a $28,000 tax bill. Golisanos fight over the bird poo in the town South Bristol, population 1600, is based on the argument that the value of his Canandaigua Lake property is driven down by the flocks of wild geese that congregate there and its governments duty to solve the problem.
Town Supervisor Daniel Marshall disagrees. Its a residents problem to take care of, not the towns, he said. Mr Marshall said no other shoreline residents have complained about the geese. It is a lake, after all.
Monica Seles won four Australian Open titles. Picture: SuppliedSource:News Limited
New Yorks Department of Environmental Conservation says the state has an overpopulation of non-migrating Canada geese and its causing problems for some homeowners, farmers, golf courses and parks. But it says nuisance wildlife on private property isnt the responsibility of the municipality. The agency recommends numerous ways to shoo them off, including those Mr Golisano has tried. When its a community-wide problem, the DEC suggests local officials may want to hire a goose control officer and devise a co-ordinated control plan. Thats what Mr Golisano wants.
For now, the tax fight remains unresolved. Mr Golisano says his next step is to seek a reduced property assessment based on the goose scourge. Mr Golisano, whose net worth is listed byForbesat $4.3 billion, is renowned for his generosity to health care, higher education and opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Monica Seles won nine Grand Slam singles titles during her stellar tennis career. Picture: SuppliedSource:News Limited
There are three childrens hospitals named for him, in Rochester, Syracuse and Fort Myers, Florida. But he doesnt want his pocket picked by local tax assessors or anyone else.
In November, he sued the remodeler of his yacht for overcharging him on furnishings. A jury awarded him $65,000, which he said hell add to the $3 million he recently donated for the Golisano Autism Center being built in Rochester.
Its the principle, he said.
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