Townsville became a gazetted town in 1865 and was upgraded to a municipality in 1866. The surrounding rural area was granted a divisional board in 1879 and was named Thuringowa. In 1902 Thuringowa was upgraded to become a shire and in 1903 Townsville became a city. The borders of the town and then Municipality of Townsville were expanded to keep pace with urban growth in 1882, 1918, 1936, 1958 and 1964, the purpose of expanding the borders was to keep urban and rural administrations separate. This state government convention changed under the Bjelke-Peterson government and the borders between the two local governments became static. By 1986 the Shire of Thuringowa had grown to a population of 27 000 and was declared a city.
In 1939, Fred Paterson stood successfully as an alderman for the Townsville City Council, becoming the first member of the Communist Party to win such an office in Australia. He was then re-elected in 1943. The same year, he stood for the federal seat of Herbert, but was narrowly defeated. He then contested and won the Bowen seat in the Queensland Parliament, holding it from 1944 until 1950.
A succession of endorsed Australian Labor Party mayors and majority councillors held a continuous civic government from 1976–2008, this was the longest continuous Labor administration in the country until Tony Mooney was defeated in 2008.
Following local government reform undertaken by the State Government of Queensland, the City of Townsville and the City of Thuringowa were amalgamated in 2008. The process of amalgamation was completed on the election of a new combined council on 15 March 2008.
Townsville City Council
Townsville City Council is the Local Government Authority that services the Local Government Area of Townsville. The council is represented by 12 councillors and the Mayor, who have been elected by the whole city. The current mayor is Cr Les Tyrell, who was formerly the mayor of the City of Thuringowa until the 2008 elections. The former Mayor of Townsville was Tony Mooney who had held the position since 1989 when he succeeded Mike Reynolds.
The City of Townsville was first established as a Municipality under the Municipal Institutions Act 1864 on 15 February 1866. On 31 March 1903, it was granted City status and came under the Local Authorities Act 1902, the ancestor of the current Local Government Act 1993. The council provides many services to residents of the city of Townsville, including infrastructure, water, garbage, public works, and entertainment and leisure i.e parks, theatres, events etc.
Currently the council has total operating expenditure of $201.3M and a capital works budget of $103.3M
The 2008 population estimate for the Townsville LGA is 175,000 people.