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Documents Mr Cull filed with Dunedin electoral officer Pam Jordan this week show he spent $13,517 on his successful tilt at the city mayoralty.
They suggest most of his campaign was self-funded: he received $1500 in donations, and no single donation exceeded $1000.
Mr Cull yesterday said the comparatively lean spend did not mean a lean campaign.
He was part of the nine-candidate Greater Dunedin, whose joint marketing created "economies of scale" to get "more bang for the dollar".
"If a candidate stood on their own, then the spend to get a similar result would, no doubt, be much higher," Mr Cull said.
His expenses included $5700 for "candidate support". Mr Cull explained that was his additional contribution to Greater Dunedin's shared expenses.
"Obviously, you would expect a mayoral candidate to spend more, so it was appropriate to recognise that in an equitable way."
The man he beat, Mr Chin, campaigned as an independent. The expenses and donations declaration he filed in October show he spent $43,446, nearly double what he spent in 2007.
Other expense and donation declarations filed over the past month show Cr Paul Hudson, the second-lowest polling successful council candidate, spent more than Mr Cull. The Central Ward councillor spent $16,073 - the most of any council candidate filed so far.
Most went on a newsletter drop that was "much, much cheaper" when he campaigned in the much smaller Cargill Ward in 2007.
"It was a significant expense but it was the way I've campaigned before, and I believe it is a valuable thing to do."
Asked how one prepared for what he acknowledged was an "expensive" campaign, he said "you start preparing, and saving, very early".
He declined to comment when asked whether he had started saving for the next election.
Other declarations filed last month include unsuccessful mayoral candidates Olivier Lequeux ($1009), Kevin Dwyer ($890) and Jimmy Knowles (nil); and successful councillors Fliss Butcher ($3127), Neil Collins ($1335), Teresa Stevenson ($549) and Bill Acklin (nil).
The deadline for filing declarations is next week.