The MTA is working hard to keep New Yorkers on their toes as it gets ready to unveil its next budget. Straphangers have already gotten threatened with a nice fat fare hike so it was only fair that drivers get threatened with some hikes at the bridge toll booths. Now Staten Islanders, the hardest hit according to the rumors, are seeing red that they might have to pay even more to get onto their island by car—but don't worry, it will still be free to leave!

Among the many rumored proposals the MTA is set to mull for its next budget is a $15 toll to get onto Status Island via the Verrazano without an E-ZPass (right now it is $13 cash—but much cheaper for E-ZPassed Staten Islanders). Local piss-hating Congressman Michael Grimm is particularly pissed about the idea. "The straw that broke the camel's back already happened," he told a rally Saturday. "There is no back to break. We are broken as a community from these tolls and we're not going to lie down anymore. We'll do whatever we have to do to make sure the MTA does not ruin this community any further."

To that end Grimm is trying to create a federal law to cap toll hikes at 10 percent over five years. "If this is enacted by 2013, they will have to roll their toll back to $12.10 for five years for them to be eligible for that federal funding," Grimm told reporters yesterday. "In 2008, the Verrazano Bridge [toll] was $10. So in 2013, that bridge could not be raised more than $1—10 percent of the $10—to $11. In 2013, the next five-year period, they can raise it another 10 percent."

For what it is worth, however, the MTA has not actually officially released any documentation about its budget plans, so it might be a bit early to get too upset over that $15 toll. Plus, Staten Islanders don't have to pay the toll. There is a very nice free ferry that will take them back and forth from their Island and the MTA runs lots of buses on and off the island as well. And maybe if Staten Islanders (among many driving New Yorkers) hadn't been so actively against congestion pricing in Manhattan the MTA would have had a little more money these days to work with? Just saying.