Skip to main content

Nebraska Counties Explorer

Merrick County

Communities and Development

Merrick County Seat: Central City

Total County Population (2020): 7,668

  • Cities (pop. & class): Central City (3,039 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Chapman (260), Clarks (344), Palmer (439), Silver Creek (320)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 3,266 (43%)

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

  • Agriculture: 87%
    • By method: Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (60%); Pasture (pure grassland) (21%); Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (5%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Corn 42%, Livestock (grassland) 21%, Soybeans 20%, Alfalfa 2%, Popcorn 1% • USDA - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (7%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 13%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

1510 18th Street
Central City, Nebraska 68826
M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

County Board Chairperson: Carolyn Kucera

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


Population: 7,665
Land area (sq. mi.): 487
Population per square mile: 15.7

Race and Age


White: 90.5%
African American: 0.5%
American Indian: 0.3%
Asian: 0.4%
Hispanic: 4.9%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.0%
Two or More Races: 3.4%


0-17: 21.9%
18-64: 56.8%
65+: 21.3%


Personal income per capita: $56,823
% of Population in Poverty: 9.6%
# of Housing Units: 3,548
Owner-occupied rate: 76.6%
Median home price: $141,620


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 72.0%

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

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.8% (as of September 2022)

High school graduate or higher: 93.5%

County Employment Website:

School Districts: Central City Public Schools, Fullerton Public Schools, High Plains Community Schools, Northwest Public Schools, Palmer Public Schools, Twin River Public Schools

Bachelor's degree or higher: 17.0%

Community College Service Area: Central Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 11 providers; 246 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.

Merrick County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $374,735,000

Cattle Producers: 195

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $15/acre

Crop Producers: 256

  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $177/acre

Dairy Producers: 1

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Frontier

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

Farmers Market: Wild Roots Farmers Market (August 6 & September 3, Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Electricity Providers: City of Central City, City of Grand Island, Polk County Rural PPD, Southern PPD

Rail-served Communities: Archer, Central City, Chapman, Clarks, Palmer, Schafer, Silver Creek

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

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 5,238

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 16

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on the Platte River at the southwest corner of Merrick County

Streamflow data on Warm Slough near Central City

Streamflow data on Silver Creek near U.S. Hwy 30 & Z Rd.

Streamflow data on Prairie Creek at NE Hwy 39


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

2022 Levies and Valuation

County levy rate: $0.2276 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $4,270,539

Total local government property taxes levied: $25,286,179

Total countywide taxable valuation: $1,876,702,877

Click here for all levy rates in Merrick 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: Loren Lippincott (District 34)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Map and statistics for Legislative District 34

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Merrick County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 8

Year Authorized: 1858

Year Organized: 1864

Etymology: Elvira Merrick (wife of Nebraska legislator)

Merrick County could literally be called a "panhandle" county, but not because of Nebraskans' general reference to the 11 counties which are located in the state's Panhandle region. Rather, a series of events at the time Merrick County's boundaries were created resulted in the county having narrow "panhandles" on both the northwest and northeast corners.

When the Legislature laid out the county in 1858, the northern boundary was a straight line. The preceding year a reservation had been established for the Pawnee tribe and Merrick County took in about half the reservation. As the Pawnee tribe gradually moved to Oklahoma, the Legislature adopted an act to create Nance County from the southern 180 square miles of reservation, all of which were located within Merrick County. Since the Pawnees had wanted both banks of the Loup River included in their reservation, the boundary line was jogged to roughly parallel the Platte River. Thus, Merrick County today has a jagged northern boundary, with narrow "panhandles" on both corners.

The county's history dates back to the pioneers who were headed west along the Oxbow Trail. The Western State Company used this route to carry mail between Omaha and Fort Kearny. It established a station about three miles southwest of what today is Central City. Known as "Lone Tree Station" because of a lone cottonwood tree, it became a welcome resting point for weary travelers.

When Merrick County was established, it was named in honor of Elvira Merrick, wife of territorial legislator Henry W. DePuy of Dodge County. At the same time, a settlement name Elvira was named the county seat. The advancement of the railroad contributed much to the development of Central City, a town given this name because it was centrally located in the agriculture region of the state. With its development, Central City became the county seat and eventually Elvira ceased to exist.

Before a courthouse was built in the 1870s, county offices were housed in the residences of various officials.

Highlight an important program in your county in this space! Send an email to:

Local Highlights

License Plate Number: 46

Time Zone: Central

Number of Veterans: 576

Zoned County: Yes

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 151

Number of County-Owned Dams: 1

Election Data

General Election Turnout (2022): 66.67%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 5,030

Number of Precincts (2020): 15

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): All Voting by Mail

Intergovernmental Data

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

Natural Resource Districts: Central Platte NRD, Lower Loup NRD

State Lands (acres): Dr. Bruce Cowgill WMA (216.67)

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)