New Ham Lake council member watches budget

102Johnson,Tomthumb.jpgIn the current economic climate, new Ham Lake Councilmember Tom Johnson
believes the city may have to tighten its belt even further.


by Eric Hagen
Staff writer

In the current economic climate, new Ham Lake Councilmember Tom Johnson believes the city may have to tighten its belt even further.

102Johnson,TomMid.jpg

Tom Johnson

After living and working in Ham Lake his entire life, Johnson, 50, will sit on the Ham Lake City Council for the first time Jan. 5. He replaces Jolynn Erikson, who decided to not run for re-election after serving one four-year term.

This will not be his first up-close experience with Ham Lake politics. For the past 17 years, Johnson has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, most recently as the chairman. He also served on the 2030 Comprehensive Plan Task Force.

A desire to stay informed naturally led him to becoming interested in politics.

“I’ve always taken an interest in politics,” Johnson said. “I’ve always tried to keep up on the various local, regional and national races.”

What prompted this certified public accountant to run for one of two council seats this past fall was because of city financial matters.

“As with everybody else in the state, I see my property tax bill go up by leaps and bounds every year,” Johnson said. “There’s been grumbling enough about it that it finally seemed to be time to be a voice to hold the line on growth in government spending.”

Johnson said the city council has done a good job holding the line on the tax capacity rate, but high property valuation increases in previous years meant property taxes continued to rise. City property taxes, of course, are only part of the total property tax bill as well that includes Anoka County, the local school district and watershed.

An important issue for Johnson that could come up right away is whether Ham Lake should be able to issue bonds over $1 million in value without a referendum. The Ham Lake Charter Commission will continue to debate this in January.

Johnson said if there is a more expensive project, Ham Lake citizens should be able to vote on it.

“I think it’s a good check and balance on local government spending,” he said.

Johnson said the whole budget will have to be explored.

“It’s the same as you would do in your own home,” he said. “You look at what you’re spending money on from top to bottom, you prioritize what’s important and you make your decisions accordingly.”

Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has 24 years experience as a certified public accountant. For the past eight years, he has run a small business in Ham Lake that performs tax and accounting services.

He has been married to his wife Marilyn for 10 years and they have two children, ages 8 and 9.

The Johnson family are members of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Ham Lake, where he has served as treasurer and a member of its Senior Leadership Council.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com.

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