Types of Cities in Minnesota

There are two basic types of Minnesota cities: statutory cities, which operate primarily under Chapter 412 of the Minnesota Statutes; and home rule charter cities, which operate under a local charter.

Statutory cities may choose from three forms of organization:

  • Standard Plan statutory city
    Standard Plan cities operate with a weak mayor-council. The Standard Plan city council consists of the elected mayor, an elected city clerk, and three or five elected councilmembers. The treasurer is an elected position, but not a member of the council. The clerk and treasurer positions may be combined into one elected position.
  • Plan A statutory city
    Cities using the Plan A form of organization are the most common type of city in our state. Plan A cities operate with a weak mayor-council. The Plan A city council consists of an elected mayor and four or six elected councilmembers. The city clerk and treasurer are appointed offices, neither positions are members of the council. The clerk and treasurer positions may be combined into one appointed position.
  • Plan B statutory city
    Any statutory city with a population over 1,000 may adopt the Plan B form. The Plan B form of government is also known as the council-manager plan. It consists of the elected mayor, four or six elected council members, and an appointed city manager. Although the council retains legislative and policy-making authority, administrative responsibilities (such as hiring and firing city employees) are delegated to the city manager.

Home rule charter city
Home rule cities derive their powers from a home rule charter, which also defines the specific powers of elected officials and appointed staff. The charter is, in effect, a local constitution. Charter adoption, amendment and abandonment procedures are found in state statutes. The charter may provide for any form of municipal government, as long as it is consistent with state laws that apply uniformly to all cities in Minnesota.

Additional Classification of Cities
For certain legislative purposes, state law divides Minnesota cities into four classes based on population.

  • First Class cities are those with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Once a city becomes a First Class city, it will not lose that status unless its population decreases by 25 percent from the census figure that last qualified it as a First Class city. Only a handful of Minnesota cities meet this definition.
  • Second Class cities have populations of more than 20,000, but not more than 100,000. About 50 cities meet this definition.
  • Third Class cities have populations of more than 10,000, but not more than 20,000. About 40 cities meet this definition.
  • Fourth Class cities have no more than 10,000 residents. More than 700 cities that meet this definition. Changes in classification, if any, take effect when the secretary of state receives certified copies of the national census.

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