Buffalo County
  • Part-Time Cook Opening
    Consolidated Management Company is accepting applications for part-time cook in the jail.Newspaper ad

    Job information and how to apply
  • Notice of Public Hearing - March 24th, 2015
    Notice is hereby given that a public hearing will be held by the Buffalo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, at 9:15 o’clock, A.M.

    See the Notice Information for full details.
  • Resolution 2015 11A
    Public hearing regarding vacation or abandonment of a road has been set for April 14, 2015.  

    See Resolution 2015 11A for more information.
  • Notice of Sheriff Sale April 9th, 2015
    Notice is given of a Sheriff Sale on April 9th, 2015.  A 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback and a 1978 Arrow Glass 18’ Boat will be sold.

    View the Notice of Sale for more information.

  • Invitation to bidders - Maintenance Building
    Buffalo County Board of Commissioners and Beckenhauer Construction, Inc. are requesting sealed Sub-contractor bids for the construction of a new Maintenance Garage south of the Buffalo County Courthouse, Kearney, Nebraska.

    See the invitation to bidders for more information.
  • Full-Time District Court Assistant Opening
    Buffalo County District Court is accepting applications for a full-time District Court Assistant.

    Job Information and How to Apply
Offices for Assess/
Notice of Possible Scam

We have been notified by Buffalo County Residents about a Recorded Deed Notice, they are receiving by mail. If you receive a RECORDED DEED NOTICE in the mail—Please disregard this notice. It will come from an out of state company/ asking for $83.00.

The Buffalo County Register of Deeds and the Buffalo County Assessor Office are not affiliated or endorse this mailing or notice. The information in both offices are public and you can acquire a copy of the information anytime at the courthouse.

Other Forms

Other Forms
Form # Form Title
191 Vacant or Unimproved Lot Application
401 Separate Assessment Application for Severed Minerals
402 Improvements on Leased Land Assessment Application
402P Improvements on Leased Public Land Assessment Application
456 Special Valuation Application for Agricultural Land and Horticultural Land
521MH Manufactured Housing Transfer Statement

Assessor Calendar

Due Dates Deadlines
January 1, 12:01 A.M. Assessment date for all taxable property.
February 1 1st date to file for Homestead Exemption
April 1 1st half Prior Year Real Estate and Personal Property Tax delinquent.
May 1 Last date to file Personal Property Schedule without penalty.
June 1 Last date for Assessor to notify property owners of increase in property valuation.
June 1 to June 30 Dates that property owner may file a valuation protest with the Buffalo County Board of Equalization.
June 30 Last date to file for Homestead Exemption.
June 30 Last date to file a request for "Greenbelt" Special Assessment for qualifying agricultural land.
July 31 Last date to file or amend personal property schedule with a 10% penalty; after this date, all personal property added is subject to a 25% penalty.
August 1 2nd half of Prior Year Real Estate and Personal Property Tax becomes delinquent.
October 15 Last date for the Buffalo County Board of Equalization to set current tax year rates (levy date).
December 31 Current Year Real Estate and Personal Property Tax becomes due and payable.

Permissive Exemptions

Property owned by religious, educational, charitable and cemetery organizations (or organizations organized and operated exclusively for the benefit of religious, educational, charitable and cemetery organizations, may obtain an exemption from property taxes in Nebraska, in whole or in part. There is a five-part test that must be met for the property to qualify. The test is:
  • The property must be owned by a religious, educational, charitable or cemetery organization;
  • The property must be used exclusively for religious, educational, charitable or cemetery purposes;
  • The property may not be used for gain or profit for the owner or the user;
    The property may not be used for the sale of alcoholic liquor for more than 20 hours a week; and
  • The property may not be owned or used by an organization which discriminates in membership or employment based on race, color, or national origin.
All five parts of the test must be met for property to qualify for tax exemption in Nebraska. An organization simply holding a tax exempt certificate from the Internal Revenue Service does not qualify property owned by the organization in Nebraska for a property tax exemption.

It is possible for real property to be partially exempt and partially taxable if, for example, segregable portions of the property qualify by meeting the five-part test and other portions of the property do not. In such cases, the non-exempt portion of the property will be valued and taxed.

Permissive exemptions require an annual application with the County Assessor. In the first year for which an exemption is sought and subsequent years divisible by four, the organization seeking the exemption must file a Form 451 and accompany it with the Questionnaire in which the Assessor’s Office asks a number of questions about the use of the property for which the exemption is sought. In the years in which the Form 451 is not required, the organization must file a Form 451A with the Assessor’s Office. Regardless of which form is required, the applications must be filed with the Assessor’s Office on or before December 31 of the year prior to the year for which the exemption is sought. For example, if an organization wishes to be exempt in 2014, the filing deadline is December 31, 2013.

If a charitable, educational, religious or cemetery organization obtains property or converts it to an exempt use after January 1 and on or before July 1, the property could still qualify for exemption for that tax year. The organization must file the Form 451, along with the Questionnaire, with the Assessor’s Office on or before July 1.

After receiving an application, the Assessor’s Office will review the application and make a recommendation to grant or deny the application. Ultimately, it is the County Board of Equalization that determines whether to grant or deny the application.

Permissive Exemption Forms
Form # Form Title
451 Exemption Application
451A Statement of Reaffirmation of Tax Exemption

Questionnaire (To be filled out with Form 451)

Nebraska Homestead Exemption Application

Homestead Exemption Forms
Form # Form Title
458 Homestead Exemption Application (Homestead Exemption Information Guide)
458B Certification of Disability (Available from Assessor's Office January 24, 2015)
453 Exemption Application for Honorably Discharged Disabled Veterans (for mobile home and motor vehicle)

Internal Revenue Service Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, allows a standard mileage rate for automobile operating expenses used for medical reasons of 23.5 cents per mile in 2014. 2015 Homestead Exemption applicants may use this rate when calculating their medical and dental expenses on Nebraska Schedule I – Income Statement, Form 458. Just click on the above link for Publication 502 for access to the allowable medical and dental expenses.

Real Property Change of Address

The Assessor’s office cannot change an address on real property without the permission and authority from the owner of the record. If you desire to have your address changed, please fill out this form and send it to:

Joseph D Barber
Buffalo County Assessor
PO Box 1270
Kearney, NE 68847-1270

County Organizational Chart

Buffalo County Organizational Chart

State of Nebraska offices: County Court, Extension, Probation, Reporting Center

*The Emergency Manager is hired by the Board of Commissioner and managed by the Sheriff

Elected officials are chosen by Buffalo County citizens through elections. Appointed officials are selected by the Buffalo County Board of Commissioner.

The following Nebraska statutes list qualifications, when required, general duties, and other information for some County elected officials:
The following Nebraska statutes list qualifications, when required, general duties, and other information for some County appointed officials:
  • Coroner - 23-1210
  • County Comptroller - 23-1401 (counties with cities of the metropolitan class) - County Clerk is ex officio county comptroller
  • County School Administrator - 23-330223-3312 (Clerk maintains records)
  • Election Commissioner - 32-211
  • Highway Superintendent - 39-2502
  • Jailer - 23-1703 (Sheriff unless county board of corrections)
  • Weed Control Superintendents - 2-954
  • Zoning Administrator - 23-114.04

Juvenile Justice System Guide

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
--John Powell


Delinquent: charged with breaking a law of a State or City Ordinance.

Status Offender: Charged with being beyond control of his/her parent(s) or habitually truant. Examples include not going to school, not keeping a curfew, running away from home, not obeying parent rules, and using drugs, alcohol or tobacco under age.


Delinquent: May be placed on probation under the supervision of a Probation Officer at home or in a group home or other restricted program. The Court may alternatively place a delinquent in the custody of the State Office of Juvenile Services (OJS) / Health and Human Services (HHS) where he/she may be supervised at home, in another placement in the community (such as foster care, group home, or residential treatment), or at the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Center (YRTC) in Geneva or Kearney.

Commitment to Office of Juvenile Services / Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS provides Court-ordered services to youth including those of the Office of Juvenile Services, the Youth Rehabilitation Treatment Centers, and Out of Home Placement.

Status Offender: Special supervision may be required. Offender may be placed at home on Probation or made a State Ward through the Department of Health and Human Services for out-of-home placement or services in the home.


 You have a right to:
  • Know what has been filed against you;
  • An attorney (a Public Defender may be provided at no cost);
  • Face and cross-examine witnesses;
  • Present evidence in your own defense;
  • Testify if you wish; however, you do not have to testify;
  • Be advised by the Judge as to what the Court can do with you; and
  • Appeal the Court’s decision to the Nebraska Court of Appeals or Nebraska Supreme Court.


  • Dress neatly and cleanly, as you would for an important meeting.
  • Be 15 minutes early, so you are ready to attend the hearing on time.
  • Speak loudly and clearly.
  • Be honest and make eye contact when talking.
  • Respond to Judge’s questions by saying, “Yes, Your Honor,” or “No, Your Honor.”
  • Curse, swear or lie;
  • Get angry or roll your eyes;
  • Walk out of the courtroom (you could be held in contempt;
  • Speak or act rudely;
  • Take a cell phone into the courtroom;
  • Slouch or chew gum; or
  • Wear sagging pants, offensive T-shirts or gang-related items.


Confinement in a locked facility for a period of time until your case is tried or a more suitable placement is found.


Unlocked staff-intensive placement for a period of time until your case is tried or a more suitable placement is found.

  • ...fail to follow court orders (any law violation, including Court orders to obey your parents’ rules and curfew, and/or attend school).
  • ...are a runaway youth (a history of running from home or if you run from your Court-ordered placement, such as foster or group home).
  • …are a danger to yourself or others (violent, aggressive, gang-related behavior or use of alcohol or drugs).
  • ...are being discharged unsatisfactorily from a placement facility. If you are not following rules of your Court-ordered placement and are discharged, you may be detained.
  • ...an OJS evaluation is ordered to be done residentially.
An evaluation can be ordered by the judge to be completed while you are detained.

Step Description
1. Arrest Upon arrest by Law Enforcement, the Officer may: 1) Street- release, 2) Cite and release to a parent, or 3) Arrest and get authorization to detain.
2. Detention Decision If recommended by Law Enforcement, a Probation Officer assesses for detention or release to parent. If detained, the Deputy County Attorney reviews all information files the appropriate Petition and requests a hearing, which should be held in a timely manner. The Court reviews all facts and determines if further detention is needed. A Petition generally must be filed within 48 hours of detention, excluding weekends and holidays. If the youth is not detained, a report is forwarded to the County Attorney for a filing decision.
3. Filing A petition is filed in the court, or declined. The matter might be diverted without filing a Petition. The County Attorney may decide to charge the youth in Adult Court. If charged with a felony or misdemeanor, the youth could be detained.
4. Arraignment Prior to the hearing, the youth meets with his/her attorney to discuss charges and how to proceed. Through the attorney, a plea of admission, denial, or no contest is entered. If the youth denies the charge(s), the Court will schedule an Adjudication Hearing. If youth admits to the charge(s), the Court will schedule a Disposition Hearing and may order evaluations.
5. Adjudication This is the trial of the Petition, where the State must prove up on the charge(s). If Court finds the Petition to be true, Court acquires jurisdiction of the youth and the matter is then set for disposition. If the Petition is not found to be true, the case is dismissed.
6. Predisposition Investigation The Court may order a predisposition investigation (PDI) by a Probation Officer prior to the disposition hearing, which involves Collecting information from the youth, his/her family, the schools, previous mental health providers, and others. This is so the Judge can make an informed decision about how best to hold the offender accountable and address his or her specific needs. More evaluations may be required (such as chemical dependency or mental health). In abuse-neglect cases, the PDI and other evaluations are done by the Office of Juvenile Services (OJS).
7. Disposition Hearing Based on the PDI and other case information, the Court orders a plan to ensure accountability and rehabilitation. The plan could include out-of-home placement, further evaluation, treatment, probation, intensive supervision, or other services.


What is Juvenile Court?
Nebraska laws have separate guidelines for juveniles (as opposed to adults, age 18 and over) who have violated the law or have other behaviors in need of intervention. Juvenile Court involvement is not considered to be a criminal record, but is intended to provide the juvenile an opportunity for rehabilitation.

What is a petition?
A petition is a legal paper, filed in the Court, outlining why you are being brought to court.

How will I know when to go to court?
You will receive a summons or letter giving the date, time, and location. The number of times you attend depends on individual circumstances. Inform the Court and Probation Officer of address or telephone changes.

What if I miss a hearing?
The judge could order you to be picked up by law enforcement, detained, and brought before the Court to explain why you ignored the Court’s notice.

What if I do not follow the Court’s rules?
A motion to review or revoke your placement or probation may be filed by the County Attorney, asking the Court to place more severe requirements on your probation or place you in an institution or state juvenile correctional facility.

Can my record be sealed (kept confidential)?
You may ask the Court to seal your records. This sets aside the record and it cannot be opened without Court approval and good cause. However, even if sealed, certain persons or agencies may still be able to access your records.

What if I waive the right to an attorney?
If you do so, you would be representing yourself. If you do not have an understanding or knowledge of legal options and process (such as motions to make, how to call and examine witnesses, and how to request services from the Court), you may be adversely affected. Remember, you can request an attorney to represent you at any point in the process.


Attention Center (308) 233-5229
County Attorney’s Office 236-1222
County Court 236-1228
City of Kearney Attorney’s Office 237-3155
Crisis Assistance Center (800) 325-1111
Detention Center (308) 233-5281
District Court 236-1246
Health & Human Services (HHS)
    Office of Juvenile Services (OJS)
    Out-of-home Placements
    Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers
Juvenile Diversion 233-5229
Truancy/Juvenile Diversion 233-5210
State Probation 236-1251
Buffalo County Sheriff 236-8555
Kearney Police Department

Family Resource Council 237-4472
Nebraska Workforce Development 865-5404
Region III
    Early Intensive Care Coordination
    Professional Partner Program
Ext. 238
Ext. 238
Buffalo County Community Health Partners 865-2284

Each individual is entitled to be, and is capable of being, responsible for his or her lawful participation in society.

Revised from the Crime Commission brochure “A Guide to Juvenile Court for Parents & Children.”

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this page.

Drug Court


The Central Nebraska Drug Court seeks to improve public safety, and reduce substance abuse and crime by providing offenders with appropriate treatment, intensive supervision and comprehensive judicial monitoring.

The Drug Court serves Adams, Buffalo, Hall, and Phelps Counties in Nebraska. It is administered by the District Courts of the Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts.

What is the Central Nebraska Drug Court?

The Drug Court is a voluntary program created by the District Court that allows eligible defendants to earn a dismissal of charges in exchange for completing substance abuse treatment and other conditions.

Individuals eligible for the Drug Court will earn a dismissal of pending felony charges upon completion of the Drug Court program, a minimum of eighteen months in length.

The County Attorney must approve all requests for the Drug Court.

What are the Drug Court Requirements?

Each person’s requirements and conditions may be different depending on individual circumstances. However, the general requirements for everyone include:
  • Complete a comprehensive assessment with the Drug Court staff
  • Complete the substance abuse treatment recommended by the Drug Court staff
  • Attend regular appearances before the Drug Court Judge
  • Submit to regular drug testing
  • Pay a weekly program fee to the Drug Court
  • Pay part of the costs of treatment, based on ability to pay
  • Reside in a participating county while in the program
  • Maintain employment, attend school, or complete other conditions as directed by the Court or staff
  • Meet with the Drug Court staff
  • Pay any court costs due
  • Obey all laws

Who is eligible for the Drug Court?

Certain offenses will qualify for Drug Court, some will not. Generally, there must be no more than one prior felony conviction. The County Attorney must approve all applicants.

Also, the participant must acknowledge having a substance abuse problem and agree to complete drug and/or alcohol treatment. Applications for Drug Court must be made within thirty days after arraignment in District Court. The Judge must approve all petitions for admission to the Drug Court.

Who is NOT eligible for the Drug Court?
  • If charged with an ineligible offense, such as murder, manslaughter, robbery, felony assault, sexual assault, or assault with a deadly weapon
  • Prior felony conviction for a crime of violence
  • Prior or current offense involved the use or possession of a firearm or a dangerous weapon
  • Prior or current offense resulted in death or serious bodily injury
  • Current offense involved the use of force against a person
  • Two or more felony convictions
  • Multiple prior misdemeanors for crimes against a person, such as assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, assaulting a law enforcement officer, or flight to avoid arrest

How to apply for the Drug Court

If you meet the eligibility criteria and want to apply for the Drug Court, consult with your attorney immediately.

General questions can be directed to: 
Connie Hultine
Drug Court Coordinator
1512 Central Avenue
Kearney, NE  68847
(402) 984-7805


The Traffic Division of the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office prosecutes all violations of the Nebraska Rules of the Road, including driving under the influence and speeding, game and parks violations, and more.

Additionally, the Division enforces selected provisions of the Kearney City Code that pertain to traffic and advises law enforcement on traffic issues.

Find information on Nebraska’s Point System for drivers licenses.

Do you have a Buffalo County traffic citation?  You have these options:
  1. Contest the citation.  Personally appear in the Buffalo County Court on the date and time given on your citation and invoke your right to trial. See the rights you have as an accused person.
  2. Pay the citation by waiver.  Pay the fines and costs no later than your court date without appearing in court. This can be done online. Waiver fines are set by the Nebraska Supreme Court for those who wish simply to pay their ticket without going to court over it. For more information, view the Nebraska Supreme Court Waiver Fine List .
  3. Inquire about the STOP class.  The Safety Training Option Program (STOP) class is offered by the Nebraska Safety Center to individuals who have been ticketed for committing a minor traffic violation. It takes eight hours to complete. It is voluntary. By completing it, the violator pays no fine, has no court appearance, has no points assessed on their driving record, and can improve their driving skills.

The Nebraska Safety Center offers this program across the State. For more information or to register, call the Safety Center at (800) 854-7864 ext. 1 or register online.

Classes are held the first Sunday of the month from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; the third Saturday of the month from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and the fourth Monday and Wednesday of the month from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Holiday times may vary.

All classes are held at:
University of Nebraska at Kearney
West Center
Room 003N
Kearney, NE 68849
(Map information)


You are not eligible for the STOP class if your citation is for:
  • Speeding twenty (20) or miles per hour over the speed limit.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Reckless driving or willful reckless driving.
  • Participating in a speed contest, race, or exhibition of acceleration.
  • Operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest.
  • Driving on a suspended or revoked operator’s license.
  • Operating a motor vehicle without insurance or proof of financial responsibility.
  • Any injury accident or violation which is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Also, you are not eligible for the STOP class if:
  • You hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), even if you were cited while operating a non-commercial vehicle.
  • You have participated in any STOP class within the last three (3) years.
  • You wish to contest your citation.
Meeting these eligibility requirements is the responsibility of the participant.

  1. Call the Nebraska Safety Center at (800) 854-7864 ext. 1, or visit their website for more information.
  2. Download the registration form.

Civil Division


The Civil Division of the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office represents the County in actions brought on behalf of or against the County. The Division also represents and advises the Buffalo County Board of Commissioners and other elected and appointed officials, including the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Civil Division is responsible for the final determination of County inheritance taxes due on estates administered in Buffalo County, for tax foreclosures for non-payment of real estate taxes, represents the County in general tax assessment and collection processes, county official’s involvement in garnishment and execution processes, and for Tort claims against the County.

Buffalo County Attorney’s Office
Civil Division
(308) 236-1222

Juvenile Diversion


The Buffalo County Juvenile Diversion Program is committed to assisting youth in avoiding delinquent and criminal behavior.  Juvenile rehabilitation and accountability is the primary goal of the program.


Individuals who wish to participate in the Juvenile Diversion Program must:
  • Be between 12 and 18 years of age. (Juveniles 11 and younger will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Accept responsibility for their offense and acknowledge the extent of their involvement.
  • Be willing to comply with all of the program requirements.
  • Reside in Buffalo County.
Prior criminal and juvenile court records will be considered in the eligibility determination. The program is voluntary, and is a privilege, not a right.

Seriousness of the Offense:

In determining the eligibility of the juvenile to participate in Diversion, the County Attorney will consider the seriousness of the offense. These factors will be used:
  • The juvenile’s previous encounters with the law, including delinquent behavior.
  • The length of time over which any prior offenses occurred, and similarity of those offenses.
  • Whether the offense involved violence, and whether it was premeditated.
  • The number of victims involved in the offense.
  • The potential for actual harm to the victim(s), even if unintended.
  • The monetary value of any damages.
  • The juvenile’s motives for committing the offense.
  • The likelihood of future law violations 
  • Whether the juvenile is amenable to treatment.

Advantages to Participation:

Successful Diversion participants benefit in these ways:
  • Criminal charges regarding the offense will be dismissed or not filed.
  • Improvement in personal responsibility and coping skills.
  • Opportunity to develop a sense of community responsibility and accountability.

  1. Assessment. Upon the offer by the County Attorney to participate in Diversion, the juvenile will complete an intake assessment. He or she will be required to meet with the Diversion Administrator to discuss the referral, the diversion process, and the offender’s willingness to participate. The youth’s history, family life, academic performance, and other relevant factors will be examined. The Diversion Administrator may also provide avenues for additional services and/or make referrals to other agencies.
  2. Drug/Alcohol Assessment. All youth who are referred with drug- or alcohol-related offenses will be required to get a complete professional drug/alcohol evaluation at their expense. The results of this assessment will be shared with the youth and their parent(s), and be required to follow the recommendations of the assessment.
  3. Drug/Alcohol Testing. Once accepted into the Program, continued use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol will be forbidden. At any time while on Diversion, the youth may be required to submit to drug and alcohol screening. The Diversion Administrator may share the results of such testing with the County Attorney, who will consider whether the youth will be allowed to continue in the Diversion Program. An offender deemed no longer eligible for Diversion will be referred back to the court for formal charges.
  4. Curfews. After being accepted into the Juvenile Diversion Program, some participants may be required to observe a curfew. The juvenile, the parent(s), and the Program Administrator will help in determining the curfew times and conditions.
  5. Duration of the Program. The Program will be tailored to the individual needs of the juvenile. Consequently, the duration of the program will depend on the offender. The maximum term of Diversion will not exceed one year.
  6. No Plea Required. While the participant must acknowledge their participation in the offense, they will not be required to enter a court plea of “admit” or “no contest.” The County Attorney will not use any admissions if charges are subsequently filed.
  7. Victim/Offender Mediation. If the victim agrees, the offender may be considered for mediation.
  8. Sponsor. A juvenile participating in Diversion will be asked to have a responsible adult as their sponsor. The Program Administrator must approve the sponsor. The sponsor may be a parent, relative, or friend.

Specific Requirements May Include:
  • Paying all required fines, fees, and restitution.
  • Satisfactorily completing all required community service.
  • Attending and participating in all educational classes.
  • Writing a letter of apology to the victim(s).
  • Informing the school in writing about participation in the Diversion Program and serving all, if any, school-related consequences.
  • Avoiding social situations that may involve criminal or delinquent behavior.
  • Obeying school and household rules, and working towards a good academic standing.
  • Receiving no additional violations and obeying the rules of the Program.
  • Signing a release of information permitting open communication with the school and other interested parties and the Diversion Program.
  • Each individual is entitled to and capable of being responsible for his or her lawful participation in society.

How to Apply:

If you are offered Diversion, please complete our Youth Questionnaire and Parent Questionnaire, then call the Diversion office at (308) 233-5229 for an appointment.


Safe Room Q & A

What is a safe room? What are the design requirements for a FEMA safe room?
A safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide "near-absolute protection" in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. The level of protection provided by a safe room is a function of its design parameters, specifically the design wind speed and resulting wind pressure and the wind-borne debris load resistance. To be considered a FEMA safe room, the structure must be designed and constructed to the guidelines specified in FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business (FEMA, third edition, 2008a) (for home and small business safe rooms). Additionally, all applicable Federal, State, and local codes must be followed. When questions arise pertaining to the differences between FEMA P320 criteria and another code or standard, the most conservative criteria should apply.

Should I have a safe room?
Pages 6 through 10 of FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) provide background information to help homeowners decide if a safe room is needed in their home. Homeowners and small-business owners should also refer to the Homeowner’s Worksheet, Assessing Your Risk (Table I-1) in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a); this is an easy-to-use matrix that helps users decide whether a safe room is a matter of preference, should be considered, or is the preferred method for protection from extreme winds.

My house has a basement. Do I need a safe room?
Some strong tornadoes have resulted in loss of floor framing, collapse of basement walls, and death and injuries to individuals taking refuge in a basement. What constitutes an acceptable level of protection is an individual decision. A basement may be the safest place to seek shelter for homes without a safe room, but it will not provide the same level of protection as a safe room unless it has been designed and constructed to provide the level of protection in accordance with FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) and FEMA P-361 (FEMA, 2008b).

A basement is a good location to install a shelter or build a safe room, but access for handicapped or physically challenged individuals may be limited. The flood risk of your location may also affect whether it is appropriate to place a safe room in your basement. If your house or neighborhood is prone to flooding, the basement may not be an appropriate location for taking refuge.

Where can I find information about obtaining FEMA funding to construct a safe room? Are there any funds available in my area?
For project eligibility and financial assistance questions, please contact your Local Emergency Manager. Your Emergency Manager can advise you on what information must be provided for your project to be considered for funding, as well as any applicable Federal, State, and local design requirements.

Can I still apply for FEMA funding after I have begun construction of a safe room or purchased a safe room?
No. You must apply for funding before the purchase of a safe room or beginning any construction. Section D.2, Part III of FY 2011 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance (FEMA, 2010) states that costs related to projects for which actual physical work (such as groundbreaking, demolition, or construction of a raised foundation) has occurred prior to award or final approval are ineligible.

What costs are eligible for funding under a safe room grant?
Allowable costs for safe room projects funded under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) are those components related to, and necessary for, providing life safety for building residents in the immediate vicinity during an extreme-wind event. The funding covers design and building costs related to structural and building envelope protection. The funding covers both retrofits to existing facilities and new construction projects, and applies to both single- and multi-use facilities.

Eligible costs are only those consistent with FEMA-approved performance criteria as provided in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a). These criteria are summarized in Table 6 (below) of the 2011 FY FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Unified Guidance (FEMA, 2010). (Click the table to view it larger.)

Does FEMA approve, endorse, or certify any products?
No. Federal No. Federal policy does not allow FEMA to approve, endorse, certify, or recommend any products. While a product may be in compliance with FEMA design guidance, any language from manufacturers stating their product is "FEMA approved" or "FEMA certified" is incorrect.

What is the recommended square footage per person for a residential tornado and hurricane safe room?
For residential safe rooms, the usable tornado safe room floor area should be the gross floor area minus the area of sanitary facilities, if any, and should include the protected occupant area between the safe room walls at the height of any fixed seating, if it exists. The minimum recommended safe room floor area per occupant for residential tornado and hurricane safe rooms is provided in table below. (Click the table to view it larger.)

What is the cost of installing a safe room in a new home or small business?
Costs for construction vary across the United States. The cost for constructing a safe room that can double as a master closet, bathroom, or utility room inside a new home or small business ranges from approximately $6,600 to $8,700 (in 2011 dollars). This cost range is applicable to the basic designs in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) for an 8-foot by 8-foot safe room (approximately 64 square feet of protected space). Larger, more refined designs for greater comfort cost more, with 14 foot by 14-foot safe rooms ranging in cost from approximately $12,000 to $14,300. The cost of the safe room can vary significantly, depending on the following factors:

  • The size of the safe room
  • The location of the safe room within the home or small business
  • The number of exterior home walls used in the construction of the safe room
  • The type of door used
  • The type of foundation on which the safe room is constructed
  • The location of the home or small business within the United States

For additional cost information for small safe rooms in a home or small business, see FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a), Section II, page 34.

As a homeowner, can I build the safe room on my own?
A homeowner who builds a safe room should be skilled in building construction. Some pre-fabricated safe rooms are available that require less building construction experience to successfully install. In purchasing any safe room, the homeowner should obtain sufficient documentation to determine that the safe room is built to the FEMA safe room design and protection criteria.

Can I install a safe room in an existing home?
Yes, though installing a safe room in an existing home or small business is typically more expensive and challenging than installing one in a new building. Modifying the walls or foundation of an existing building for the construction of a safe room is more complicated than constructing those elements new and, as a result, some of the prescriptive safe room designs provided in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) are not practical for some existing homes. Typically, installing a safe room in an existing home costs 20 percent more than installing the same safe room in a new home under construction.

Due to the technical challenges involved in retrofitting an existing home for a safe room, an architect or engineer should be consulted to address the structural issues and the wind-borne debris protection criteria, even when not required by the local building department. As such, homeowners must balance the desire to have protection within their home with the practicality of constructing a safe room outside the footprint of their existing home or structure for less money. For more information on retrofitting existing buildings with a safe room, see FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a), Section II, page 25.

Is an underground safe room safer than one above ground?
As long as a safe room is designed to meet or exceed the criteria in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) and FEMA P-361 (FEMA, 2008b), it will offer the same near-absolute protection whether it is above or below ground.

Where is the best location for the safe room?
There are several possible locations in or near your home or small business for a safe room. The most convenient location in many homes is in the basement. If there is no basement within the home, or if the walls of the basement do not meet FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) design criteria, an in-ground safe room can be installed beneath a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or concrete garage floor. In-ground and basement safe rooms provide the highest level of protection against missiles and falling debris because they are typically shielded from direct forces of wind and debris; however, above-ground designs, such as the prescriptive designs provided in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) or any solution following the criteria set forth in FEMA P-361 (FEMA, 2008b) will provide near-absolute protection.

Many individuals prefer to build within their homes or buildings so they have some level of protection while attempting to access their safe room. For an existing home or small business, this convenience must be balanced with the challenges of retrofitting the building. For more information on selecting the location of a safe room within your home or small business, see FEMA P-320 (2008a), Section II, page 27.

Are inspections required?
Obtaining proper building permits and inspections is important for all construction. The builder or homeowner should ensure the safe room is built according to the plans in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) or to plans that, through testing and engineering, have been determined to meet the safe room design criteria in FEMA P-320 (FEMA, 2008a) or FEMA P-361 (FEMA, 2008b). The level of construction needed for a safe room typically requires a permit from the local building department. Further, to verify compliance with the FEMA or International Code Council (ICC)-500 (ICC, 2008) criteria, additional quality control inspections for community safe rooms, and often for residential safe rooms, may be needed.

If the Storm shelter costs $6,000.00 can I get more than $2,000 reimbursed?
No, the Hazard Mitigation Program only allows reimbursements up to 75% of the approved costs.

I need to have my Storm Shelter money up front to pay my contractor. Is this possible?
No, The money is only available as a reimbursement, AFTER construction is completed and you have submitted signed and notarized documentation from your contractor stating your Storm Shelter meets or exceeds the specification set forth in FEMA Publication 320.

If I am eligible to receive the $2,000 rebate, do I have to consider that money as income for State and Federal Income Tax purposes?
No, in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, these funds are considered free from tax liability under Federally funded assistance programs.


Click the button below to access GIS:
Click here for the full help document for this website.

Our GIS site is open to the public with three offices currently online.

On the Assessor tab you will be able to view parcels and section information. A photo and sketch of each parcel are also available. If you have any questions about information on the Assessor tab, please call 308-236-1205.

On the Planning/Zoning tab you will be able to see information on floodplains, wellhead protection areas, and county zones. If you have any questions about information on the Planning/Zoning tab, please call 308-236-5640.

On the Roads tab you will be able to see information on surface type, signs, and bridges. If you have any questions about information on the Road tab, please call 308-236-1237.

A subscription is also available to view additional information on the Assessor's tab, such as sales information, all photos and sketches, and the ability to view other layers provided by the Assessor's office. If you have any questions about the subscription, please contact us at gis@buffalocounty.ne.gov or (308) 236-1236. To subscribe, mail the Premium Subscription Form and a check for $300 to:

Buffalo County
Attn: IT Department
1512 Central Ave
Kearney, NE 68847


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Political Party Information

Currently the political parties recognized under Nebraska law are as follows:
  • Democratic
  • Libertarian
  • Republican
  • Non-Partisan (not politically affiliated)
The elected offices nominated on a partisan basis are:

President, Vice President, U. S. Senators, Member of the U. S. House of Representatives, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, State Attorney General, County Commissioners, County Clerk, County Attorney, Register of Deeds, County Assessor, Clerk of the District Court, County Sheriff, County Treasurer and County Surveyor.

Effective: December 2, 2013

County Benefits

The Buffalo County Veterans Service Office offers the following benefits for those veterans who are eligible:

County Veterans Aid Fund 
The CVA fund is a temporary emergency fund to assist veterans, their spouses, and dependents when there is an unforeseen emergency and there are no other resources available. Eligible veterans are persons who served on active duty, received an Honorable Discharge, and served during one of the defined "wartime eras" and who have resided in Nebraska for at least one year, and Buffalo County for at least six months. Applicants may request assistance with food, shelter, clothing, funeral, medical, dental, and surgical items. The applicant must apply through the County Service Office in Buffalo County. This is an "aid" program so the veteran must demonstrate an "inability" to meet the obligation to pay these bills, via an application.

Bronze Grave Flag Holders
State of Nebraska statute requires the County Veterans Service Office to provide a flag holder reflecting the veterans wartime era. The Buffalo County, Veterans Service Office also annually inventories these flag holders to insure they remains on the correct grave and we replace damaged markers.

Registration of DD214s
Buffalo County records a "certified copy" of the original copy of a veterans military separation document (DD-214). Once recorded the veteran may call us from any where in the world and we will provide them with a "certified copy" when needed.

Homestead Exemption
Annually, the Buffalo County Veterans Service Office obtains a letter from the VA Regional Office that establishes who are eligible veterans (or widows) for a tax exemption on their personal residence. These letters are provided to the County Assessor.

Grave Registration
Upon notification of the burial of a veteran in Buffalo County we complete a "grave registration card". We maintain a copy here in Buffalo County, and the original is sent to the State of Nebraska, Department of Veteran's Affairs in Lincoln. We also order a "Presidential Memorial Certificate" for the family of all deceased Buffalo County veterans.

Disclaimer Statement

The information provided by this service resides on a computer system funded by the County of Buffalo, Nebraska. Anyone using this service consents to the monitoring of their use of this service by the computer system providers, authorized County of Buffalo, Nebraska employees, as well as security or law enforcement personnel. Communications made through this service's electronic mail and Messaging system shall, in no way be deemed to constitute a filing with or legal notice to the County of Buffalo or any of its agencies, departments, authorities, officers, directors, employees, agents or representatives, with respect to any existing or potential claim or cause of action against the County or any of its agencies, departments, authorities, officers, directors, employees, agents or representatives, where notice to the County is required by any federal, state or local law, rule or regulation.

Government Offices can only accept written documents for filing into official government records unless specific statutory language authorizes filings done by other than written medium.

The protection of individual privacy is a concern to Buffalo County. Buffalo County has created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate its firm commitment to privacy. The following discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for this site.

Information You Provide to Us:
Buffalo County does not keep any personal information about you or your visit to our Internet site unless you have specifically supplied it to us. If you may have supplied us with information as part of a request for information or to e-file an appeal of your Board of Property Assessment decision. This also applies to any feedback or on-line survey information you may have sent us through our website. In cases where you have supplied us with information, including financial data, we will treat such information in accordance with the requirements of the law. This means that it will be treated in the same way as written forms of communication, and in many instances it will be considered public information available to the public upon request. To the extent allowed by law, Buffalo County will make reasonable attempts to protect personal financial information from disclosure.

Public Disclosure:
As a general rule, Buffalo County does not disclose any personally identifiable information collected online except where you have given us permission or where the information is public information under the Nebraska Public Records Act et seq., or other applicable laws. Visitors should be aware that information collected by the County on its websites may be subject to examination and inspection if such information is a public record and not otherwise protected from disclosure.

Other Information about Your Visit to Our Site:
Our web site does not automatically collect any information from your computer during your visit. Certain pages, however, may tally total number of visitors.

This privacy policy does not apply to web sites operated by third parties that you may access through a link from our web site.

The County of Buffalo makes no warranty or representation, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. The County of Buffalo assumes no liability or responsibility for the quality, content, accuracy, completeness of the information, text, graphics, links and any other items contained on this service or any other system or service. The materials contained on this service have been compiled from a variety of sources and are subject to change without notice. Commercial use or sale of the materials contained on this service is prohibited without the express written consent of the County of Buffalo. In no event will the County of Buffalo be liable for any damages whatsoever, whether direct, indirect, consequential, incidental or special, or any claim for attorney's fees arising out of the use or inability to use the information on this service, even if the County of Buffalo is advised of the possibility of such damages.

All documents available on this service may be protected under the United States and/or Foreign Copyright Laws. Permission to reproduce may be required. The County of Buffalo retains all rights to the information provided by this service, including, but not limited to, the right of reproduction.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favored status by the County of Buffalo. The views and opinions of authors expressed on this service do not necessarily state or reflect those of the County of Buffalo, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

The County of Buffalo is not, and shall not bear any responsibility for the contents of any off-site pages referenced.