by P.J. Harston & Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services
NNSL (NOV 01/96) - The NWT Housing Corporation approved a $25,000 home renovation grant to Mackenzie Delta MLA David Krutko, Yellowknifer has learned.
The grant, in the form of a forgiveable loan, was landed last spring and has left a bad taste in the mouths of some riding residents.
Krutko said he hasn't accepted the grant yet and a bank mortgage he needs to qualify for the loan hasn't been signed.
When asked if he thought it was fair for an MLA to receive a government grant, Krutko said it wasn't an issue.
"Basically, as far as I'm concerned, I haven't accepted that loan. And until I do, then it isn't an issue."
Krutko said he's trying to decide whether or not renovating his dilapidated 1978 house in Fort McPherson is worth the estimated $80,000 it will cost.
Some residents are wondering why Krutko's application - filled out last December - was considered at all.
"I can think of a lot of people who need $25,000 a lot more than Krutko does," said one Fort McPherson woman who didn't want her name published.
Another resident, Orie Wyness, is concerned that, while his MLA receives free money, the corporation is passing by others in need of essential house repairs.
"I've got nothing against the guy, it just doesn't seem like a fair system," he said.
However, Krutko said he shouldn't be disqualified just because he's an MLA.
"Anybody has the right to apply for this program. It's not something that's specially approved for anybody. It's basically a home-improvement program to renovate older units."
Krutko discovered the rarely used, three-year-old forgivable-loan program late last year, two months after his election.
One of 20 available corporation loan programs, it is designed to help Northerners who can't otherwise afford to build a new home or renovate an old one.
The corporation's vice-president of operations, Dave Murray, said Krutko's application was "done by the book."
He said that while he wasn't aware Krutko's mortgage wasn't final, bank approvals are "just as good".
"This program is three years old, I mean, it's not as if it was invented to give Mr. Krutko or anyone else money," he said.
The corporation has approved three other applications in the region over the lifetime of the program - one in Fort Norman and two in Inuvik.
"Not many people fit into the profile needed to qualify for the program," said Murray.
Under the program's guidelines, loans of not more than $25,000 are forgivable over a 15-year period. If the applicant sells the house before 15 years pass, he must repay part of the loan.
Income qualifications vary from place to place. In McPherson, an applicant must make between $78,500 and $103,000.
Krutko rejected any suggestion that he shouldn't qualify for the grant. "I have a house in my riding. At least I show up in my riding and live there. That's more than you can say about some other people," he said.
However, Krutko hasn't lived in Fort McPherson since the late 1980s, residents said. The house he has there isn't habitable. He gutted it over the summer while preparing it for renovations.