WINTHROP — Ryan Frost, the police chief in Winthrop, will replace current Town Manager Peter Nielsen when he leaves his position at the end of June.

The Town Council unanimously agreed to appoint Frost to the role after a closed door executive session on Monday night.

Frost, 48, has been the town’s police chief for the last two years and has worked full-time for the department for 28 years — and when part-time is included, 31 years.

“I’m overjoyed,” he said after the council’s vote.

Nielsen announced his resignation two weeks ago, citing an error that had been made in the town’s tax collection last year that created a $166,000 shortfall in the town’s finances.

Sarah Fuller, chairwoman of the Town Council, said Frost was appointed because of the respect he has in the community, his experience putting together police department budgets and his leadership experience.


“He’s well-liked by citizens and staff, and he has excellent judgment,” she said, adding that it’s “a huge relief” to be able to fill the Town Manager position so soon after Nielsen announced his resignation.

Frost will sign a one-year contract with the option of a three-year renewal. His income has not been determined, but it will be in the ballpark of Nielsen’s $80,000 salary, Fuller said.

He’s entering the position at a difficult moment, as the town tries to recover from another, much larger shortfall in the budget that resulted from an error two years ago. The town now has a deficit of about $1.5 million.

And after voters rejected an $11.19 million school spending proposal last week, in a 477-438 vote, the Town Council decided on Monday to try to hold a vote on another plan by the end of July.

Citing his lengthy experience of working with people and managing finances, Frost said he’s ready for the responsibility.

“I’ve worked here many years, and I’m able to give back in a different way,” he said.


Fuller said “the continuity of leadership” will be valuable as Frost takes the baton from Nielsen.

Officials will soon determine a plan for appointing a new police chief.

On Monday, the Town Council also agreed to inform the school department of a July 5 meeting in which a new school spending proposal can be discussed. Councilors also said they will try to hold a vote on the spending proposal in late July.

But in a letter to the Town Council, Gary Rosenthal, superintendent of the School Department, said he hopes the school department could have until late July to draft a new spending proposal that better reflects the amount of revenue coming from the state.

Though the $11.19 million spending plan was rejected by voters last week, it will now be the de facto operating budget of the school department until a new one can be passed, an attorney for the town, Lee Bragg, said on Monday.

But the council was hoping to pass a reduced, $10.9 million school spending plan earlier this year, and are now asking the school department to come back with a leaner proposal.


Rosenthal and members of the school board did not attend Monday’s meeting. Newly elected Councilwoman Rita Moran said the school board will be meeting on Wednesday night.

Since the $1.5 million shortfall was discovered in the school side of the budget last summer, the Town Council and the School Department have clashed over which side was responsible for it and how much funding the schools should receive next year.

In the run up to last week’s election, councilors first asked the school department to draft a $10.9 million spending plan, then revised its request upward to $11.19 million.

That budget eliminated a foreign-language teaching position in the middle and elementary schools and reduced an educational technician position from full- to part-time, according to a copy of the cuts on the district website. It also eliminated stipends for plays, foreign-language clubs, field trips and a number of sports teams, including skiing, tennis and unified basketball.

An earlier proposal by the School Department would have eliminated music, arts and other programs to reach the $10.9 million target set by the council, but it drew protest at a meeting in May.

Of the town’s 5,014 registered voters, 920 cast ballots last week — about an 18 percent voter turnout.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

Twitter: @ceichacker

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