After a four-hour closed-door meeting, Halifax council Tuesday voted unanimously to hire Richard Butts as the city's new chief administrative officer. Butts is presently a deputy city manager in Toronto. He will start work in Halifax City Hall March 28. Breaking with past practice of contracting for the job with former CAOs Dan English and George McLellan, Butts will be a direct employee of the city; he starts at an annual salary of $285,000, increased to $300,000 after one year. Should Butts quit on his own accord or be fired "with cause," he will receive no severance package, but should he be fired "without cause" he will receive 18 months' pay, says mayor Peter Kelly.