State leaders look to fill gap in $67 million for Operation Rio Grande

State leaders look to fill gap in $67 million for Operation Rio Grande (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Operation Rio Grande’s estimated price tag of $67-million has a 30-percent gap, according to numbers released by state officials Monday.

The roughly $20-million gap will be funded over the next two years by state, county, state and federal money, House Speaker Greg Hughes told 2News.

“To see two thirds of this budget really buttoned up, to see that gap, I think over the spread of two years over with the partners that we have and the cooperation we’ve enjoyed, this is absolutely an achievable next step,” Hughes said.

The budget for Operation Rio Grande divides funds between law enforcement and social services.

  • Operation Rio Grande Budget Breakdown:
  • Jail Beds: $15-million or 22 % of budget
  • Law Enforcement: $19-million or 28 % of budget
  • Housing and Services: $15 Million or 22 % of budget
  • Treatment Beds: $19 million, or 28 % of budget

Hughes said the stakeholders anticipated a funding gap in the operation.

“When we started this, some could have argued that that number you had to find over two years could have been much higher,” Hughes told 2News.

With two weeks on the books, the effects of Operation Rio Grande are evident in the areas around 500 West and 200 South. The daily street population has decreased significantly as law enforcement from several agencies can be seen on every block.

Other neighborhoods report seeing an increase in criminal activity as a result of the enforcement.

Hughes and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox spoke to the media together Monday afternoon. They both said talks are already underway for filling the $20-million funding gap to fund Operation Rio Grande through 2019 when the Road Home homeless facility is scheduled to close.

“Regardless of where you live, the homeless services are mostly here. Not everybody that’s out here in Rio Grande comes from downtown Salt Lake City,” Cox said. “This is important to the entire state, I know we talk about a small geographic area, but it’s a geographic area that has impact and reaches all corners of the state.”

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