The "Divisional Boards Act of 1879" provided for local government for any part of the Colony not included in a municipality and proclaimed a Division by the Governor. The first Divisional Boards were proclaimed on 11 Nov 1879. The Wangaratta Divisional Board was established on that date.
The primary function of the Divisional Board was to provide such public services and amenities as roads, bridges, water, sanitation and drainage, public health services, parks and reserves, cemeteries, etc. The Divisional Board also had powers in relation to the construction of buildings, fire prevention, public nuisances, places of amusement, public carriers, slaughter houses, markets, animals, traffic, etc.
The Board was responsible for administering the Local Fund, and, for valuing properties within the Division for the purpose of determining and collecting rates, which together with endowments and loans, formed its revenue base. The general powers of the Board were exercised through by-laws approved by Governor-in-Council.
The Division was governed by a rate-payer elected Board comprising a chairman and a number of members. Special or general purpose committees were appointed and the Board employed its own officers to administer its business, headed by a Clerk. Divisional Boards submitted an annual Statement of Revenue and Expenditure to the Minister.
The "Local Authorities Act 1902" abolished divisional boards and created city, town and shire councils. Under this Act, on 31 Mar 1903, the Wangaratta Divisional Board became the Wangaratta Shire Council.