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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Howard County

Communities and Development

Howard County Seat: St. Paul

Total County Population (2020): 6,475

  • Cities (pop. & class): St. Paul (2,416 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Cotesfield (29), Cushing (37), Dannebrog (273), Elba (192), Farwell (138), Howard City (Boelus) (181)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 3,209 (50%)

Land Development (2022) (% of total land in county):

  • Agriculture: 91%
    • By method: Pasture (pure grassland) (43%); Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (38%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (9%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Livestock (grassland) 42%, Corn 29%, Soybeans 15%, Alfalfa 4% • USDA - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (4%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 9%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

612 Indian Street
St. Paul, Nebraska 68873
M-F 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

County Board Chairperson: Kathy Hirschman

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: 2nd & 4th Tuesday

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: Central

District President: Carrie Miller, Nuckolls County Clerk, Register of Deeds, Election Commissioner

District Vice President: Kali Bolli, Garfield County Assessor 

District Secretary/Treasurer: Cara Snider Wheeler County Clerk

NACO Board Representatives: Bill Maendele, Buffalo County Commissioner

Well Locations (Irrigation/Livestock), Soils, Groundwater & Surface Water

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 1,453

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 143

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on the Middle Loup River at St. Paul

Streamflow data on the North Loup River near St. Paul

Sources: National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA), Nebraska Cooperative Council, Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary EducationNebraska Department of TransportationNebraska Office of the CIO, Nebraska Power Review Board, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau


Population: 6,475
Land area (sq. mi.): 569.34
Population per square mile: 11.4

Race and Age


White: 95.0%
African American: 0.2%
American Indian: 0.2%
Asian: 0.2%
Hispanic: 2.3%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.0%
Two or More Races: 2.0%


0-17: 24.5%
18-64: 54.0%
65+: 21.5%


Personal income per capita: $55,957
% of Population in Poverty: 8.8%
# of Housing Units: 2,865
Owner-occupied rate: 79.5%
Median home price: $183,430


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 59.2%

Sources: National Association of RealtorsNebraska Library Commission, U.S. Bureau of Economic AnalysisU.S. Census Bureau

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.7% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 96.0%

School Districts: Central Valley Public Schools, Centura Public Schools, Loup City Public Schools, Northwest Public Schools, Palmer Public Schools, St. Paul Public Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 21.7%

Community College Service Area: Central Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 8 providers; 183 children

Find child care: For a list of child care providers in your zip code, visit Nebraska DHHS or the Nebraska Resource and Referral System.

Howard County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $231,632,000

Cattle Producers: 277

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $48/acre/yr

Crop Producers: 299

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $122/acre/yr

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Aurora Cooperative, St. Paul Co-Op Grain Association

Local Grain Market: Click for today's grain prices in Howard County

Electricity Providers: City of St. Paul, Howard Greeley Rural PPD, Nebraska PPD, Southern PPD

Rail-served Communities: Cotesfield, Elba, St. Libory, St. Paul

2022 Levies and Valuation

County levy rate: $0.1616 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $2,354,942

Total local government property taxes levied: $20,623,012

Total countywide taxable valuation: $1,456,868,875

Federal PILT payment to Howard County (FY2022): $3,258 regarding 1,109 federally-owned acres

Click here for all levy rates in Howard County

County Levy and Taxation Laws

Levy limits:

Since 1996, counties and other political subdivisions have been subject to the levy limits listed in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3442 and Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-3443.

Statutes and regulations:

Nebraska Revised Statutes (Chapter 77)

Nebraska Administrative Code (Title 350)

Local tax reductions, exemptions, and credits:

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-902(5)(a) (Deed "stamp tax" exemption): "The [stamp tax] shall not apply to: ... (5)(a) Deeds between spouses, between ex-spouses for the purpose of conveying any rights to property acquired or held during the marriage, or between parent and child, without actual consideration therefor."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-201(2) (Valuation of agricultural land and horticultural land): "Agricultural land and horticultural land as defined in section 77-1359 shall constitute a separate and distinct class of property for purposes of property taxation, shall be subject to taxation, unless expressly exempt from taxation, and shall be valued at seventy-five percent of its actual value, except that for school district taxes levied to pay the principal and interest on bonds that are approved by a vote of the people on or after January 1, 2022, such land shall be valued at fifty percent of its actual value."

Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-6703(1) (Tax credit for school district taxes paid): "(1) For taxable years beginning or deemed to begin on or after January 1, 2020, under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, there shall be allowed to each eligible taxpayer a refundable credit against the income tax imposed by the Nebraska Revenue Act of 1967 or against the franchise tax imposed by sections 77-3801 to 77-3807. The credit shall be equal to the credit percentage for the taxable year, as set by the department under subsection (2) of this section, multiplied by the amount of school district taxes paid by the eligible taxpayer during such taxable year."

Sources: Nebraska Department of Revenue

State Senator: Tom Briese (District 41)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Select Committees:

  • Reference (chairperson)

Special Committees: 

  • Legislative Performance Audit
  • Legislature’s Planning Committee

Map and statistics for Legislative District 41

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Howard County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 7

Year Authorized: 1871

Year Organized: 1871

Etymology: Oliver Howard (U.S. army general)

     Howard County, bisected by two veins of the Loup River and marked by rolling hills, was originally part of Hall County. In 1871, following extensive research conducted by two government surveyors, James and Nicholas Paul, the Nebraska Legislature carved Howard County from the northern part of Hall County. The county was named after Civil War General Oliver Howard (nicknamed the “Christian General”), a staunch abolitionist who would later lead the Freedman’s Bureau.

     Following its formal organization, Howard County grew quickly and gained over 4,000 residents in its first decade. By 1900, the population had swelled to 10,000 people. Notably, the Paul brothers not only surveyed the county in the 1860’s, they also helped found the county’s first permanent settlement and eventual county seat. The brothers suggested naming the town “Athens,” but a post office in Nebraska already bore that name. Phineas Hitchcock (the namesake of Hitchcock County, later organized in 1873) suggested naming the town after the Paul brothers, and hence, St. Paul became Howard County’s first and only county seat. Remarkably, unlike in other Nebraska counties, the decision over the county seat was uncontroversial and enduring, likely due to St. Paul’s central location and early founding.

     Howard County is rich in history and notable figures. Lieutenant General Clarence Irvine, known for his work helping develop the legendary B-29, was born in Howard County. One of Nebraska’s most famous edibles, Dorothy Lynch dressing, was created by the woman herself in Howard County. Grover Cleveland Alexander also hailed from Howard County and later retired to St. Paul following his Hall of Fame baseball career and 373 career wins (3rd all-time). Each year, residents celebrate Grover Cleveland Alexander Days, a festival that features music, food, sporting tournaments, and of course, baseball.

     Finally, it’s impossible to describe Howard County’s history without noting its courthouse, a three-story Bedford Stone (or white limestone) building constructed in 1913 that also features a memorial to Civil War veterans. Throughout its history, the courthouse has welcomed many different types of tenants, including not only the jail, courtroom, and county officials, but also the public library and the Grand Army of the Republic (a Civil War veterans organization).

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Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 49

Time Zone: Central

Number of Veterans: 440

Zoned County: Yes

County Hospital: Howard County Medical Center

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 132

Number of County-Owned Dams: 2

Election Data

General Election Turnout % (2022): 54.40%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 4,638

Number of Precincts (2020): 8

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 7

Land Area per Polling Place (avg.) (2020): 81.33 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

Emergency Mgt. Planning, Exercise and Training (PET) Region: East Central

Natural Resource Districts: Central Platte NRD, Lower Loup NRD

State Lands (acres): Harold W. Andersen WMA (272), Leonard A. Koziol WMA (327.70), Marsh Wren WMA (153), Loup Bottoms WMA (86.60), North Loup SRA (19.56)

Sources: Nebraska Department of Transportation, Nebraska Emergency Management AgencyNebraska Game & Parks CommissionNebraska LegislatureNebraska Office of the CIONebraska Secretary of StateU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (eCFR)