Bland Fires Back at Barry Following Tax Accusations

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Meridian, Mississippi Some harsh words were exchanged Thursday night between the candidates running for mayor in Meridian.

Mayor Cheri Barry accused Democrat Percy Bland of not paying his business taxes over the last three years. Newscenter 11 dug up the records on Friday, which show Bland has paid his taxes, though they were paid well past the deadline over the last three years.

Documents say taxes on Bland's insurance business have been paid for 2010, 2011, and 2012, though they were paid late. Taxes for the year 2010 were paid in March 2012. For the year 2011, they were paid in January of this year. For the year 2012, taxes were paid this week.

"And Mr. Bland, you just paid your taxes last night and you're six months in arrears," Barry said during the debate. "And you have not paid your business taxes for the past three years."

"The bottom line of it is she's desperate," Bland immediately responded during the debate. "And she has not been running a strong campaign."

Bland was not available to speak with Newscenter 11 on-camera Friday about the accusations, but issued the following statement:

“The bottom line is that I’ve paid my taxes and Cheri Barry knows it," Bland said. "Her attacks on me were distorted and dishonest. She’s desperately slinging mud at the last second to deflect attention from her failed record as mayor. Ms. Barry has spent the last four years arrogantly rewarding her family and friends, while doing nothing to move Meridian forward.”

The general election is Tuesday, June 4.