Staten Island’s bitter opposition to the MTA’s congestion pricing plan has revived the borough’s long-dormant secession movement.
“I think it’s time to secede,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) told The Post. “There’s no real value in being part of this city or the state. We didn’t vote for this mayor; we didn’t vote for this governor; and we didn’t vote for this president, but we’re always the ones getting screwed.”
Malliotakis and City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli are planning to join Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella’s expected lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which seeks to block plans to charge drivers up to $23 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street.
Earlier this month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy filed a federal lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, alleging the feds didn’t conduct a proper review of the toll’s impact on New Jersey drivers.
“Staten Island teaming up with New Jersey to sue is further proof that we should just let Staten Island secede,” said one progressive Democrat on the City Council. “Maybe they can officially make Staten Island a township of New Jersey.”
The borough’s already gridlocked roads will only get worse when Manhattan-bound drivers try to beat the congestion fee taking the borough’s bridges and highways to get to the free Staten Island ferry, or Brooklyn subway stops, officials believe.
They’re also peeved the current plan doesn’t include discounts for Staten Islanders, who already pay $7.38 with E-ZPass to drive roundtrip off the island via the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge or $14.75 if they commute to Manhattan by first using crossings into New Jersey.
Tolls by mail for the Verrazano and New Jersey bridges connecting with Staten Island are $17 by mail.
Staten Island Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks, a centrist Democrat, said she also opposes congestion pricing because of the costs, and “traffic problems and pollution” it will create.
“Historically, Staten Island gets the short end of the stick,” she said. “We pay a higher property tax rate but receive inadequate funding for infrastructure and critical resources. I can see why secession continues to be a talking point, albeit unlikely to happen.”
The idea of Richmond County splitting from the Big Apple has been bandied about for more than 30 years and in 1993 residents voted 2-1 to secede in a referendum — only for Albany pols to shoot down the effort.
Borelli introduced legislation last year to create a task force to study the feasibility of Staten Island seceding.
“Projects that are important to us like [a long-awaited plan to widen Arthur Kill Road] are not important to the rest of the city,” the Staten Island Republican said. “It’s time.”
With about 475,000 residents, Staten Island is the city’s least populated borough, but on its own would rank among the most populated cities in the country — bigger than Miami and Pittsburgh.
Councilwoman Diana Ayala, a Democrat representing the South Bronx and part of Upper Manhattan, said her district has similar concerns as Staten Island about the proposed tolls potentially bringing her residents more traffic and pollution.
“I would hate to lose Staten Island, but I don’t blame them [for wanting to secede] especially when your partners in government don’t include you in conversations on something that will affect you,” she said. “It’s pretty irritating.”