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Nebraska Counties Explorer

Otoe County

Communities and Development

Otoe County Seat: Nebraska City

Cities, Towns, and Villages (pop.): Burr (52), Douglas (166), Dunbar (165), Lorton (35), Otoe (161), Palmyra (534), Talmage (198), Unadilla (307)

Total County Population (2020): 15,912

  • Cities (pop. & class): Nebraska City (7,222 • 1st Class), Syracuse (1,941 • 2nd Class)
  • Villages (pop.): Burr (52), Douglas (166), Dunbar (165), Lorton (35), Otoe (161), Palmyra (534), Talmage (198), Unadilla (296)
  • Unincorporated Pop. (% of county pop.): 5,142 (32%)

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

  • Agriculture: 80%
    • By method: Dryland (row crop/grain/forage) (69%); Pasture (pure grassland) (10%); Irrigated (row crop/grain/forage) (2%) • Neb. Dept. of Rev. - total equals agriculture's %
    • By commodity: Soybeans 36%, Corn 36%, Livestock (grassland) 11%, Other Hay 1%, Alfalfa 1% • USDA - equals agriculture's % plus some wetlands (1%) and minus public grassland/wetlands and reserve
  • Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Conservation Reserve & Exempt (combined): 13%
  • Timber: 7%

County Offices

Courthouse Address and Hours:

1021 Central Avenue
Nebraska City, Nebraska 68410
M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

County Board Chairperson: Jerad Sornson

Complete list of county board members

County Board Meetings: Tuesday ( Bi-Weekly)

View the County's Government Maps

Visit the County Fairgrounds

NACO District: Southeast

President: Misty Ahmic, Seward County Commissioner

Vice President: Patty McEvoy, Saunders County Clerk of the District Court

Secretary/Treasurer: Amber Mulberry, Saline County Clerk of the District Court

NACO Board Representative: Mark Schoenrock, Jefferson County Commissioner

Click for a live look at Otoe County (south of Nebraska City)


Population: 15,912
Land area (sq. mi.): 615.66
Population per square mile: 25.8

Race and Age


White: 87.1%
African American: 0.5%
American Indian: 0.2%
Asian: 0.5%
Hispanic: 7.9%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.0%
Two or More Races: 3.4%


0-17: 24.0%
18-64: 55.7%
65+: 20.3%


Personal income per capita: $63,569
% of Population in Poverty: 8.4%
# of Housing Units: 6,941
Owner-occupied rate:75.0%
Median home price: $171,390


Access to broadband (100 Mbps via fiber or cable modem): 63.2%

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

Employment, Schools, and Child Care

Unemployment rate: 1.9% (as of September 2022)

County Employment Website:

High school graduate or higher: 92.3%

School Districts: Conestoga Public Schools, Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools, Freeman Public Schools, Johnson County Central Public Schools, Johnson-Brock Public Schools, Nebraska City Public Schools, Norris School District 160, Palmyra District OR1, Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca Schools, Sterling Public Schools, Waverly School District 145

Bachelor's degree or higher: 25.4%

Community College Service Area: Southeast Community College

Countywide child care capacity: 18 providers; 338 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.

Otoe County Economy

Annual Gross Domestic Product (2020): $1,347,298,000

Cattle Producers: 226

  • Pastureland Cash Rent (avg.): $53/acre

Crop Producers: 56

  • Dryland Cash Rent (avg.): $182/acre
  • Irrigated Land Cash Rent (avg.): $241/acre

Dairy Producers: 1

Grain Co-ops and Purchasers: Farmers Co-op Company, Frontier

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

Farmers Markets: 

  • Nebraska City Farmers Market (May - August, Thursdays 3:45 - 6 p.m.)
  • Syracuse Farmers Market ( May - September, Saturdays 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.)

Electricity Providers: City of Nebraska City, City of Syracuse, Nebraska PPD, Omaha PPD, Village of Talmage

Rail-served Communities: Dunbar, Nebraska City, Palmyra, Paul, Syracuse, Unadilla

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

Total Irrigation/Livestock Wells: 90

Surface Water Diversions (Irrigation): 244

Click for real time:

Streamflow data on the Missouri River at Nebraska City

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: $0.3624 per $100 of taxable valuation

County property taxes levied: $9,192,396

Total local government property taxes levied: $45,205,832

Total countywide taxable valuation: $2,536,808,182

Click here for all levy rates in Otoe County

County Levy and Taxation Laws

Levy limits

Since 1996, counties and other political subdivisions have been subject to levy limits under 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: Julie Slama (District 1)

Standing Committees (click for scheduled committee hearings): 

Select Committees:

  • Reference

Special Committees: 

  • Executive Board of the Legislative Council

Map and statistics for Legislative District 1

Map of all districts in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature

Otoe County History

Number of Registered Historic Places: 27

Year Authorized: 1855

Year Organized: 1855

Etymology: Otoe Native American tribe

Two years before the Nebraska Territory would be granted statehood in 1867, William R. Craig and F.W. Wood completed a grand two-story brick building that 129 years later holds the honor of being the oldest public building in Nebraska. That building is the Otoe County Courthouse.

Otoe County was defined by the Territorial Legislature on March 2, 1855, the same year that Nebraska City was platted. The county was named after the Watota Indians, one of the many tribes which lived along the Missouri River. Otoe is derived from Oto, the Indian abbreviation of Watota, which means "lovers of pleasure."

When the county was created, Nebraska City was designated as the county seat. For several years there were no official county offices. Rather, county business would be conducted from a log cabin and from rooms that were rented from Nebraska City stores.

Whether it was by design or by chance, when the courthouse was built in 1865 it was built on ground that was once part of an Indian cemetery. When it was completed, the courthouse cost $22,500. County offices were located on the build's first floor, the District Court on the second floor, and the jail in the basement.

The first addition to the courthouse was made in 1882 with a wing added to the west end. In 1936 it became apparent that additional space was once again needed and an identical two-story wing was added to the east side of the original courthouse. Ironically, the second addition cost nearly three times what the original courthouse cost 71 years earlier.

Today, the Otoe County Courthouse is among those listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also rich in the history of Otoe County is J. Sterling Morton, who served as Secretary of the Nebraska Territory and twice as its acting governor. In addition, Morton was Secretary of Agriculture in President Grover Cleveland's administration. Despite this public service, Morton is best known as the originator of Arbor Day.

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Communities and Development

License Plate Number: 11

Time Zone: Central

Number of Veterans: 1,178

Zoned County: Yes

Number of County-Owned Bridges: 275

Number of County-Owned Dams: 3

Election Data

General Election Turnout (2022): 54.01%

Total Registered Voters (2020): 10,965

Number of Precincts (2020): 13

Number of Election Day Polling Places (2020): 10

Land Area per Polling Place (avg.) (2020): 61.57 sq. miles

Intergovernmental Data

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

Natural Resource Districts: Lower Platte South NRD, Nemaha NRD

State Lands (acres): Riverview SRA (37.79), Triple Creek WMA (80), Wilson Creek WMA (42)

Federal Lands (acres): Hamburg Bend (1,576)

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)