The Local Government Act 1878 made provision for the creation of additional municipalities under the style of cities, boroughs (towns) or shires (country districts).
The Council of the Borough of South Brisbane was constituted under these provisions as a separate Municipal Institution for the purposes of Local Government. It was created out of the areas formerly comprising the Division of Woolloongabba and the South Ward of the Municipality of Brisbane.
The function of Municipal Councils under the Local Government Act 1878 was generally to maintain "the good rule and government of the municipality", and specifically to provide and manage such public services and amenities as roads, bridges and wharves, water supply and sanitation, cemeteries, street lighting, fire prevention and public health services including control of contagious and infectious diseases. Functions also included the regulation of building construction, vehicular traffic and public nuisances and the issuing of licences for markets, carriers and carters, slaughter-houses and abattoirs, etc. Council could also establish and manage such public facilities as hospitals, asylums for destitute children, libraries, botanical gardens and public places of recreation including parks and reserves.
The general powers of local Councils were exercised through the passing of by-laws requiring the assent of the Governor-in-Council.
Municipal Councils were responsible for the administration of their revenue base including rates (general and special), loans, and endowment through Ordinary Revenue and the Municipal Fund. For the purposes of determining rates, Councils were required to value all rateable land within the municipality.
The municipal district of the borough was not subdivided for administrative purposes. The borough was governed by a Council composed of an elected mayor and aldermen, totalling twelve members.
Colonial Secretary, 7 Jan 1888 - 6 Aug 1896
Home Secretary, 6 Aug 1896 - 31 Mar 1903
Under the Local Authorities Act 1902, Municipal Councils were constituted as Town Councils. Consequently, South Brisbane Borough Council became South Brisbane Town Council on 31 March 1903.