NEW ORLEANS —
Local authorities could have taken even fuller advantage of BP's largesse had the company or state officials not nixed some requests that had no clear connection to the oil. Police in D'Iberville, Miss., for instance, were denied a $245,000 mobile command unit, a $140,000 hazardous materials vehicle and a $19,000 Harley-Davidson.
"If we had to establish barricades, they thought it would be more maneuverable," City Manager Michael Janus said of the motorcycle. "It was a bit of a reach, obviously."
Although BP footed the bill for other pricey acquisitions, some officials concede they may have to use taxpayer money to maintain them.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spent $5 million for 22 boats and the accompanying trawls, nets and hauling vehicles.
"Nobody asked me for a space shuttle or anything," said Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham.
BP money will cover the costs of maintaining the vessels, leasing dock space and buying fuel for at least three years, he said. Whether taxpayers will be forced to pick up these costs after that hasn't been decided.
"They don't run for free," Barham said.
Schneider reported from Orlando, Fla. Deslatte reported from Baton Rouge, La. AP videojournalist Jason Bronis in Gulfport, Miss., and Associated Press writers Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss., Brian Skoloff in Ocean Springs, Miss., and Harry Weber and Troy Thibodeaux in New Orleans contributed to this report.