In 1982, a group of Ham Lake citizens gathered signatures on a petition of qualified voters equal in number to ten percent of those voting at the last election held in the City (approximately 150 signatures). They proceeded to file the petition in Anoka District Court seeking formation of a city charter commission. The purpose of the charter commission was to gather information to enable them to make a decision as to whether or not to recommend that the City of Ham Lake be governed by a Home Rule Charter as opposed to a Statutory City. The Chief Judge of the District Court subsequently appointed the following persons as the seven member charter commission: Carl Anders, Dennis Landborg, Anne Roseland, Kenneth Braastad, Patricia Titterud, Clarence Genz, and Dale Steinke.
The Charter Commission met on June 2, 1982, encouraging all citizens to attend or provide input. Over the next several months, the Charter Commission framed the Ham Lake City Charter, consisting of twelve chapters. The proposed Charter was presented to the Ham Lake City Council, which placed it on the next general election ballot on November 2, 1982. It was adopted by a vote of 1,490 for the Charter and 924 against the Charter.
In Minnesota, there are two basic types of cities: Home rule charter cities (operating under a local charter) and statutory cities (operating under the state statutory city code). The major difference between home rule cities and statutory cities in Minnesota is the kind of enabling legislation from which they gain their authority. Statutory cities derive their powers from Chapter 412 of Minnesota Statutes. Home rule cities obtain their powers from a Home Rule Charter. The distinction between home rule cities and statutory cities is one of organization and powers, and is not based on differences in population, size, location, or any other physical feature. Home rule charter cities can exercise any powers in their locally adopted charters as long as they do not conflict with any state laws. Conversely, charter provisions can specifically restrict the powers of a city. Consequently, voters in home rule cities have more control over their city’s powers.
Of the 854 cities in the state, 107 are home rule charter cities in Minnesota. Ham Lake, like 72 other home rule cities, has a weak mayor-council plan. This means that the powers of the mayor are generally no greater than those of any other member of the council. No individual councilmember holds any specific administrative powers.
The City operates under a “Plan A” organizational plan of government, which usually has four elected councilmembers, an elected mayor, who is also part of the council, and an appointed clerk and treasurer. Of the 854 cities in Minnesota, 630 are “Plan A” cities.
For certain legislative purposes, state law divides the 854 cities in Minnesota into four classes based on population from the national census figures. Ham Lake, with 15,650 residents, is a city of the Third Class (cities with populations of more than 10,000, but not more than 20,000).