Editor's Letter

11/28/2016 | By Chris Olson

'Tis the Season for Soothsayers

The year’s end always brings out the soothsayers with predictions for the new year. But after a presidential election, especially one in which the winner was a surprise to many, the fortune telling game really takes off. Will the election be a trump card for the economy?

Or, as the donkey Benjamin predicts in Orwell’s Animal Farm after the pig Napoleon becomes supreme leader, will life “go on as it always has – that is, badly”?

Of course, there is a great expanse known as the middle ground that stretches between the poles of optimism and pessimism. Unfortunately, it is littered with words like “maybe” and “perhaps” and with statements like “if … then” and “on the one hand … but on the other.” It was the middle ground that President Truman was referring to when he wished for a one-handed economist. Moreover, campaign proclamations often fall back into the middle ground once the sausage making called policy begins under a new president.

So what do a new year and a new president mean for facility management?

FM is downstream from the core mission and revenue-producing priorities of most organizations, despite the support it provides for the mission. Many FM budgets are built on the previous year’s expenses and funding, and the budgeting process is not typically an exercise in looking forward. Viewed as real estate and capital assets, facilities may eventually be affected by any new policies that affect the capital and financial markets or real estate taxes. And funds availability may affect financing for energy conservation projects, for which PACE funding (page 9) is a fantastic option. In any case, it appears that the energy tax credits from the EPAct legislation will expire at the end of 2016.

I don’t know of a credible crystal ball that can tell us whether the new year and new administration will be good, bad or (my guess, as a realist) in between. As the saying goes, the pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects the wind to change; the realist continually adjusts the sails.

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