MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan announced Friday that Tim Helwig, administrator of the Chautauqua County Home, will resign effective next month.
The action comes just weeks before the Chautauqua County Legislature scheduled a special meeting with VestraCare, a buyer who is interested in the home. Sale of the county run skilled nursing facility in Dunkirk has been the topic of many meetings in the past two years. On Oct. 30, a single vote was needed to confirm the sale of the home to VestraCare. Since the vote, the makeup of the Legislature has changed. The body was downsized from 25 to 19 members. Republicans gained a majority with 13 of the seats.
The special meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 Legislature Chambers.
“Mr. Helwig’s announcement has nothing to do with the special meeting or potential sale of the county home,” said Horrigan Friday.
Helwig, who has been the administrator of the Chautauqua County Home since 1997, is taking another position as director of nursing homes in Cattaraugus County.
“I greatly appreciate the many years I was afforded to serve with my teammates in county government and am thankful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of many of the county’s most vulnerable residents,” said Helwig.
“I am thankful for the support of the county leaders over the years and am even more thankful to the dedicated and caring staff members at the Home who have been so committed to our residents and supportive of our efforts to improving the quality of life for our home’s residents.”
Horrigan, who just took office in January, is now faced with looking for a replacement. He said he has options to select an administrator for a regular, permanent position or to choose someone from a management company. Horrigan said that the administrator must be licensed and approved by the New York State Department of Health.
Helwig’s resignation is not effective until Feb. 28, which is two days after the regular meeting of the Legislature. Horrigan said he anticipates that a resolution to act on the possible sale of the home is possible at the Feb. 26 meeting. “I expect the resolution will be the topic of committee meetings and follow the process to be on the February agenda,” Horrigan said.
Even if a sale is approved, there are still several steps needed to close a deal, including involvement of the state Health Department, according to Horrigan.
The transaction includes the buildings and 30 acres of land on Temple Road in Dunkirk. The purchase price was $16.5 million when it came before the Legislature in October. The resolution stated: “Chautauqua County can no longer sustain and afford a $2.6 million operating deficit at the county home.”
The home has 216 beds for residents who need skilled nursing services. The facility employs 280 people full time. Staff members belong to the CSEA union. The facility was once known as the Chautauqua County Home and Infirmary and was founded in 1832, according to the county website.
Horrigan, who was a legislator representing Bemus Point last year, and Mark Tarbrake (R-Jamestown), Victoria James (D-Jamestown) and John Hemmer (R-Westfield) all voted to support the resolution in October when the health and human services committee met. The resolution subsequently failed to get the needed 17 votes in the Legislature.
Horrigan said he thought that the Feb. 5 meeting would give newly elected legislators a chance to hear about the topic. He said he understood that Legislature Chairman Jay Gould was planning to allow questions only from the lawmakers at the session. The session will be open to the public.
Cattaraugus Correspondent Chris Chapman contributed to this report.