NAPLES — When they say, “More money, more problems,” it seems likely that “bird poop” isn’t what they’re referring to.
Nonetheless, for Naples billionaire and Paychex founder Tom Golisano, bird poop is indeed a problem, and it’s one the businessman takes seriously enough that he’s prepared to withhold $90,000 in taxes.
Golisano, who summers in South Bristol, New York, is strenuously objecting to Canada geese using the lawn of his vacation home as a bathroom.
“This past summer it was horrible,” the 76-year-old billionaire complained. “We’d drive in and find 100 to 200 geese parked on our lawn.”
Presumably, the other half of the “we” in Golisano’s statement is his wife, 44-year-old former tennis star Monica Seles.
“You can’t walk barefoot, can’t play Frisbee, can’t have your grandchildren run around …” Golisano continued. “Here I am paying all this money in taxes, and I can’t use my property because of the geese droppings.”
Golisano took a few personal measures—such as decoys, repellent and strategically-placed fishing line—to deter the avian menace before throwing up his hands and resorting to the withholding of his taxes until the local government rectified the situation.
Town officials are finding it difficult to conjure up a lot of sympathy for Golisano’s decidedly First-World problem.
“It’s a resident’s problem to take care of, not the town’s,” said town supervisor Daniel Marshall, who also went on to note that Golisano’s issue is not unexpected for property that lies beside a lake.
One wonders if the right-leaning Golisano would be as quick to expect government intervention if the issue didn’t affect him personally, and more cynical-minded folk might be tempted to point out the convenience of the rationale to use the goose droppings as a justification to dodge tax payments.
Indeed, Golisano makes no secret of having an ax to grind with the tax authorities. The billionaire intends to file a class-action lawsuit with other area homeowners who feel they are taxed too heavily.
“A lot of people are suffering significant injustice because of the assessment system,” Golisano asserted.
Since his stated plan is to actually pay zero dollars on a “goose poop” defense, one could be forgiven for questioning just how much “suffering” the $3.4-billion-dollar tycoon is really enduring on these matters.
On the other hand, he’s struggling to find someplace to play Frisbee, so maybe this really does qualify as a crisis after all.