Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners approved an increase in its local Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) to pay for its share of the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project. The Board of County Commissioners unanimously voteed to approve the increase on November 14 and December 5, 2019. Two votes are required for a county fee increase. The Board asked staff to research ways to lessen the impact of the fee on low-income vehicle owners.  Options to lessen the fee impact will be researched and shared with the board in 2020.  The new fee takes effect on January 1, 2021.

2021 VRF increase and vehicles, owners impacted

How much will the county VRF increase?

Simulation of Burnside Bridge collapse after a Cascadia Zone earthquake.

The current $19 a year fee per vehicle will be increased by $37 per year for a total of $56 per year. Vehicle owners pay the fee to the state every two years.

Do commercial trucks pay the fee?

In accordance with state law, commercial trucks weighing more than 13 tons (26,000 pounds) do not pay state or local vehicle registration fees. The owners of those vehicles pay a weight/mile tax instead. The local VRF applies to commercial vehicles that weigh less than 13 tons.

How much will the County VRF be for motorcycles?

Multnomah County’s current VRF for motorcycles is $19 per year. In 2021 it will increase by $20 per year for a total of $39 per year.

What type of vehicles does the VRF apply to?

Multnomah County’s VRF would apply to the same vehicles as the state of Oregon’s VRF.

Are there any exemptions for vehicle types or owners?

Any vehicle type or owner group that is exempted by the state fee is also exempt from Multnomah County’s local VRF. Examples include snowmobiles and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), fixed load vehicles, vehicles registered to disabled veterans, antique and special interest vehicles, government, school and law enforcement vehicles, and vehicles registered for interstate operation.

In 2020 the County's Transportation Division will share options with the Board of County Commissioners to lessen the impact of the fee increase on low-income vehicle owners. 

Use of VRF funds, VRF comparisons

How will the VRF revenue be used?

State law requires Multnomah County’s VRF to only be used on Willamette River bridge projects. The County is currently using its VRF revenue to pay for the new Sellwood Bridge and for the planning phase for the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project.

How will revenue from the VRF increase be used?

Revenue from the VRF increase will help fund the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge project’s design and construction phases. The County will also seek regional, state and federal funds for the project’s construction phase.

How does Multnomah County’s current $19 VRF compare to other nearby counties?

Clackamas and Washington counties currently have a VRF of $30 per year for cars. Washington County charges $17 per year for motorcycles and Clackamas County charges $15 per year for motorcycles. Multnomah County currently charges $19 per year for cars and motorcycles.

Collection, Implementation of VRF Increase

Who will collect the VRF?

The Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (formerly the DMV) will collect the fee. Drivers pay a single fee that includes the county and state vehicle registration fees.

What is the current state portion of the VRF?

The State of Oregon’s vehicle registration fee is $56 per year per vehicle (not counting Multnomah County’s VRF).

When would the increased County VRF go into effect?

January 1, 2021.

The west end of the Sellwood Bridge rising from a forested riverbank, with its reflection in the river below.How often will a vehicle owner pay the increased VRF?

Every two years. Buyers of a new vehicle can pay for a four-year registration when it is requested at the same time as the title.

How does a vehicle owner pay the County VRF?

Vehicle owners pay the County VRF as part of their State Vehicle Registration.

Adoption schedule, public input on proposed VRF increase

What authority does the County have to raise the VRF?

In 2009 the Oregon Legislature granted Multnomah County the authority to adopt and collect a local VRF. In 2017, the Legislature authorized counties to raise the fee up to $56 a year.

When did the County decide on the VRF increase?

Increasing the VRF required the Board of County Commissioners to vote on the measure at two separate public hearings, in order to consider public comments and amendments. The first and second hearings were held at public meetings on November 14 and December 5, 2019 in the County boardroom.

How can I comment on the VRF increase?

In addition to comments that were submitted online or at the Board's public meetings, comments can also be submitted online using the form at the bottom of this page or by emailing multcovrf@multco.us. Comments can also be mailed to VRF Comments, Communications Office, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214.

Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge

How much will the project cost?

Current conceptual cost estimates for design and construction are between $580 and $860 million depending on which alternative is selected and if a temporary detour bridge is included. The cost estimate will be refined after a preferred alternative is confirmed in 2021.

How will the rest of the project be funded?

The County is seeking regional, state and federal funds, primarily for the construction phase.


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