MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson released boundaries for four potential annexation areas for the city Wednesday. Depending on which map is approved by the city council, Mobile’s population could grow by anywhere from 16,700 to 26,100 residents.

Tuesday, the city council approved spending up to $100,000 on an independent study of each of the four proposed annexation areas. The study will examine potential revenue and expenses and look at demographics.

According to the mayor’s preliminary numbers, all of the four areas would still leave the city with a majority African-American population and voting age population.

“That would not be upset by the annexation,” said Chief of Staff James Barber. “We’re very cognizant of that. The other issue that we saw during redistricting is we have four black majority [council] districts. And that would not be impacted by annexation, either.”

A proposed annexation in 2019 was rejected by the city council on strict racial lines. The city’s black council members said the city could not afford annexation.

Stimpson and Barber, however, say the study will clearly indicate that annexation will actually improve the city’s bottom line.

“You hear a lot of arguments about ‘why would we annex more neighborhoods when we can take care of the ones we have? It’s too expensive,” said Barber. “But the revenue and growth of this area not only takes care of that area but helps the entire City of Mobile.”

Barber says if the city can exceed a population of 200,000, it will be in line for more federal grants.

“It’s really important that we grow back the city to being the second biggest in Alabama,” Barber said. “That 200,00 just really opens up opportunities for federal grants because it puts us in a medium sized city category rather than a small city category.”

Barber says the study, to be conducted by PFM financial consultants, should be complete in six weeks. Then it will be up to the city council to approve one of the proposed annexation maps.